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Penn National Spends Big To Defeat Maryland Gambling Expansion

Maryland voters will be asked in November to approve a ballot question that would pave the way for lawmakers to expand gambling in the state. Penn National Gaming is spending big money to make sure that expansion never happens.

Penn National owns a casino in Charles Town, West Virginia, and the belief is that new casino resorts in Maryland would hurt business at the West Virginia facility. That is why Penn National has spent a reported $18 million to lobby against the expansion.

Election officials have released the latest disclosure report, and Penn National has offered up another $5 million to stop Question 7. If passed, lawmakers would then begin the process of passing legislation to bring additional casino resorts to Maryland.

Penn National is not alone in their spending in Maryland. MGM Resorts, another national gaming powerhouse company has spent money to pass the ballot question. MGM stands to benefit from the passage, as they are eying a new casino at National Harbor in Prince George's County.

MGM is not the only company that could benefit from gambling expansion. Penn National also owns a casino in Maryland that would be permitted to offer table games if the ballot question passes. Penn National also could bid in the right to operate the casino in Prince George's, but the company believes the odds of that happening are slim.

Maryland has become one of the Northeastern states that has jumped into the casino industry in the past decade. Maryland does not currently offer table games, but lawmakers are moving in the direction of permitting the additional form of gambling.

Pennsylvania added table games last summer, and has since become the gaming capital of the East Coast. Pennsylvania casinos surpassed New Jersey casinos in overall revenue last December, and they have widened the revenue gap through the first three quarters of 2012.

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