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O'Malley May Use Executive Order For Maryland Gambling Expansion

Governor Martin O'Malley is not happy with the way that the gambling expansion debate has fractured the Maryland Legislature. The issue caused a major rift last session in the Legislature, and now the governor is set to take the issue out of the hands of lawmakers.

O'Malley is considering issuing an executive order that would call for the creation of an 11-person commission. The goal of the commission would be to examine the positive and negative effects that gambling expansion could have on the state. If created, the commission would play a vital role in any expansion efforts moving forward.

In addition to the commission, the executive order would also call for a special session this summer to discuss the gambling expansion issue. Maryland is one of many Northeastern states that are trying to move quickly with expansion in order to capitalize on the growing need for casinos in the region.

"These states have to use special sessions for the gambling issue, because the industry is growing to quickly to wait a couple of years to expand," said Gaming Analyst Brad Dawkins. "The revenue being created by casinos that have been built since the recession is staggering, and all Northeastern states want a part of that pie."

Maryland was one of the leaders into the gaming industry several years ago, when lawmakers authorized casinos, but in the years since, Maryland has fallen behind the likes of Pennsylvania and Delaware. Massachusetts and New York have casinos on their way, and once those casinos are open, the industry will be as competitive as it ever has been on the East Coast.

Even with O'Malley pushing the gambling agenda, some Maryland lawmakers are resisting the idea of a massive overhaul to the gambling industry.

"It seems to me there was no data on how they came up with their splits," said House Speaker Michael Busch, referring to data that has emerged regarding the financial benefits new casinos could bring. "We ought to know exactly what we're doing."

Busch and other legislators stance on the issue has caused O'Malley to consider the commission. One of the plans being discussed would allow existing Maryland casinos to keep more of their winnings if new facilities were opened up in Maryland.

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