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Maryland House Finalizes Casino Gambling Expansion Plan

The Maryland House has been working this week on finalizing plans for gambling expansion in the state. The expansion would allow Maryland's five existing casinos to offer table games, and would also authorize a sixth gaming facility in Prince George's County.

The Prince George's site has been a topic of debate for much of the year in Maryland, and this week legislators zeroed in on the potential of the gaming facility becoming reality. The House plan would allow the casino in Prince George's County, but the establishment would be unable to offer slot gambling.

The House version of the gaming bill is going to set off a battle between themselves and the Senate. The Senate has already passed a version of the legislation that would allow not only the table games, but also slots at the Prince George's location. That issue could become a stumbling block in negotiations moving forward.

Whether or not a gambling bill passes the Senate and the House, it would ultimately be the voters in Maryland that will decide the fate of gambling expansion. Voters have become increasingly open to the idea of making Maryland a major gambling state such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the Northeast.

"We have already opened the door for gambling in Maryland," said resident Georgia Banks. "We might as well give ourselves and our casinos an ability to compete with the big dogs in the industry. In order to do that, our casinos need to have table games, so I would definitely vote in favor of that type of expansion. This seems like the next stage in our gambling growth as a state."

The House version would permit casinos to keep 85% of the revenue they bring in from table games. That figure is much higher than in other states, where tax rates vary. Most states tax their casinos between 25% and 50%. The rate has some lawmakers concerned over the new bill, which is what led the House to scale back the Senate version of the bill.

"It just gave too much," said Representative Frank Turner. "I mean, the state got very little. The operators got a windfall, and the House is not willing to do that."

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