Maryland asks voters to vote themselves out of gambling plans


maryland-gambling-expansion-consitutional-amendmentMaryland legislators are seeking a statewide referendum on whether to eliminate the need for statewide referendums on future gambling expansion proposals.

On Tuesday, Maryland’s state Senate voted 46-1 in favor of a constitutional amendment that would ask state voters to amend the constitution’s requirement for gambling expansion proposals to be put to a statewide vote. The legislation now heads to the state House of Representatives for further debate.

In 2008, Maryland voters approved a legislative package that would authorize casino gambling in the state, while amending the constitution to require any future gambling expansion plans to be put to a voter referendum. Ironically, state voters will have to approve the new amendment to remove their power to reject future gambling expansion.

Maryland is one of the many US states contemplating the addition of legal sports betting to their gambling options, in part due to Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder’s threats to move the team from its current home at FedEx Field in Landover unless he gets permission to feature betting windows at a new stadium he wants to build on the site of the current stadium.

The state’s six casinos have made no secret of their desire to add betting to their gaming mix, although they’re less wild about sharing betting rights with state racetracks and off-track betting parlors. Throw in a cantankerous NFL owner sniffing around for public funds to build his new sports venue and it’s anyone’s guess how a betting-related referendum might play out.

Meanwhile, Maryland’s casinos generated revenue of just under $145.5m in January, up 6.2% from the same month last year but about $3.6m below December 2019’s take. As usual, MGM Resorts’ National Harbor venue led January’s honor list with $58.5m, while perennial runner-up Live! Casino & Hotel maintained that number-two slot with $51.75m (+11.8%).

Caesars Entertainment’s Horseshoe Casino Baltimore ranked third with $19.3m, down 4.4% year-on-year and the only casino to post negative growth in January. Hollywood Casino Perryville posted the month’s biggest rise, up 12.1% to $6.1m, while Ocean Downs Casino gained 11% to $5.35m and Rocky Gap rose 10.5% to $4.44m.