Judge Upholds Maryland Gambling Expansion
Back in November, voters in Maryland approved expanded Las Vegas-style casino gambling in that state, and now a judge has rejected a legal suit that sought to overturn the will of the people of the Chesapeake Bay State.
The opposition to the law came from a former Prince George’s County Council member, Tom Dernoga, who contended that the law ought to be thrown out due to the fact that it was not approved by a majority of “qualified voters” in Maryland, meaning not everyone who was registered to vote, but rather only those who actually punched ballots on election day. According to the Washington Post, if Dernoga’s interpretation of the state constitution were correct, in many elections with low participation, more voters would be necessary to pass ballot measures than had physically showed up.
In his ruling this past Tuesday, Judge Ronald A. Silkworth of Anne Arundel County shot down Dernoga’s notion as being “baseless”, remarking that the intent of such language with regard to elections “has been clear since the time of Common Law in England.”
So, now that the road is clear for expanded casinos, what can Maryland residents expect? For one, the Maryland Live! Casino, in addition to two other gambling properties, can now remain open around the clock and next year can start to roll out casino games such as blackjack, craps, and roulette.
By 2016, there could be as many as three casino resorts of the variety more commonly seen in Las Vegas than along the Eastern Seaboard, situated along the heavily-commuted stretch of highway in between Baltimore and Washington D.C. Among the top contenders for a license to operate a casino in the state will certainly be MGM, as the company was a major proponent of the bill, known as Question 7, pouring huge amounts of money into lobbying for its passage.
MGM plans to spend around $800 million constructing a grand casino resort property at National Harbor. Running up to the November elections, Maryland residents were inundated with television, radio, and print ads, which clearly worked more favorably toward the side of those supporting gambling expansion.
Just to give a sense of the outsized amount of spending relating to Question 7, proponents and opponents of the measure spent a combined $90 million, a figure that comes close to the total amount spent by all Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates in the state of Maryland over the past fourteen years, according to the Post.
To put it another way, the amount of capital spent on the casino gambling issue alone was more than all of the candidates for the following offices spent in 2012 combined: governor, 404 House of Delegates candidates, attorney general, state comptroller, 114 State Senate candidates, and 16 persons with major party backing running for the United States House of Representatives.
Like many states, particularly on the East Coast of the US, where crossing state lines is fairly easy due to the relatively small size of many of the states, Maryland is facing stiff competition for gambling revenue from its neighbors. Pennsylvania is currently in the process of expanding land-based casino gambling, and other states, such as Delaware, will this year begin to offer more online gambling options to residents as well.
There are some in Maryland who are very excited to see the casinos open up shop in their state: would-be dealers. Maryland Live! has set up a school for prospective dealers, located in a shopping mall in the city of Glen Burnie. Out of 9,000 applicants who sought to attend the classes, the casino selected 840 of them, whose completion of the school won’t necessarily guarantee them a job with the company.
Aside from the basics like the game rules and chip handling, students are required to take math tests and polish their social skills.
Albert Foschini, who will be a pit boss when the casino games open at Maryland Live!, said of developing the required skills for the profession, “It takes time. It’s a tough game. You have to be good with your hands. You have to be fast. You have to move. If you can’t walk and chew gum, you’ve got a problem.”
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