The General Assembly will return to Annapolis this week to consider legislation that would authorize a video lottery facility in Prince George’s County and table games at all video lottery facilities. This proposed gaming expansion would be subject to voter approval at the November election. Also to be considered at the special session is legislation that would establish strict liability for owners of all dogs, thereby relieving landlords from liability for damage caused by the dog of a tenant. It is unlikely that other issues will receive serious consideration.
The current General Assembly schedule calls for the Senate to convene Thursday morning, with 1 p.m. hearings by the Budget & Taxation Committee on the gaming legislation and the Judicial Proceedings Committee on pit bull legislation. The House is expected to convene on Friday, with 1:30 hearings by the Ways & Means Committee on gaming and by the Judiciary Committee on pit bull legislation. The special session is expected to continue through early next week.
Last night Governor O’Malley released a 56 page draft of his proposed gaming bill. Key provisions include:
- Authorization of a video lottery facility in Prince George’s County at a location within 4 miles of the intersection of Bock and St. Barnabas Roads, which could have up to 3,000 video lottery machines and open by July 1, 2016 if Prince George’s County voters approve the referendum.
- Authorization of all video lottery licensees to offer table games.
- Shifting the ownership of video lottery machines from the state to licensees, except in Allegany and Worcester counties.
- Reconstituting the Lottery Agency to be called the Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.
- Potentially increasing the licensee share of the video lottery handle from 33% to 44%, to compensate for licensees assuming the cost of acquiring video lottery machines and competition from the Prince George’s facility.
- Many other adjustments to the gaming laws regarding shares of gaming proceeds, limiting campaign contributions by key employees of licensees, and reporting of independent expenditures for the November referendum.