Gaming Expansion Approved; Voters Have Final Say
Senate Bill 1 – Gaming Expansion – Video Lottery Terminals and Table Games passed the General Assembly Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. The bill is expected to be signed by Governor O’Malley (at 10am on Wednesday) and will then be subject to voter referendum in November.
The legislation needed 71 votes to pass the House and was approved by the narrowest of margins (71-57 with several Delegates absent or not voting).The Senate concurred with the House version of the bill and passed it on a vote of 32-14.
There were dozens of amendments debated and added in the House in the last 36 hours. None of the amendments changed the broad-stroke impact of the gaming expansion. The bill still authorizes a sixth gaming location in Prince George’s County and still adds table games to the offerings at the licensed facilities. That said, amendments that further reduced tax rates for casino operators were adopted, reducing the amount of money the gaming expansion would provide to the Education Trust Fund (ETF).
To be clear, it is still a net positive for the ETF --- in the ballpark of $200m more in FY19, assuming voters approve the expansion. But since many legislators argued that gaming expansion is necessary to protect education funding, we will be fighting hard in the months and years ahead to guarantee that new gaming revenue means new dollars to address unmet needs in the funding of our public schools.
The bill link provides a lot of information and access to the fiscal notes and amendments offered and approved during debate. Click here to read MSEA’s testimony.