From State Sen. Nancy Jacobs:
I am very opposed to holding this special session for expanded gambling in the state. Special sessions are supposed to be for emergencies and certainly expanding gambling is no emergency. It’s irresponsible to race this bill through so quickly when it can’t be properly vetted.
Let’s start with the fact Governor O’Malley said he would have a bill for us to review weeks ago…we still don’t have it and it will probably be given to us right before the session. This is not right. We should be able to thoughtfully consider the details.
Expanding to a sixth casino at this time could hurt the ones that are already built or on the drawing board. Voters approved five, and two of them aren’t even up yet and are struggling to get capital funding. While we have some data on how the first three are doing, it’s just too early. The expansion could result in harm to the already approved casinos if we change the game when the players who’ve made big private investments are already on the field.
It makes you wonder if any business would work with the State of Maryland in the future when you can’t trust the word of its elected officials. To me, retaining that integrity is very important.
This might look like a quick money fix to fill a budget hole if voters approve the National Harbor site in November… but what about the state tightening its belt instead? Isn’t that the more responsible course of action?
I am also very concerned about the House Speaker saying Maryland should make legalizing internet gambling part of the discussion in this special session. There is a big risk that young people could get around security to keep them out. There is a higher risk of addictive behavior when a virtual casino is in arms reach. I have voted against the gambling expansion that was put before the General Assembly during the regular session and will be carefully scrutinizing this new bill when we receive it.