At a summit that brought a host of Prince George’s County and state officials to Upper Marlboro to discuss the future of gambling in Maryland, a new player revealed his hand.
Bowie Mayor G. Frederick Robinson officially stood in support of passing an expansion of gambling in the state at a county government press conference on Thursday.
Robinson joined a number of state officials including County Council members Derrick Davis (D-Dist. 6) of Mitchellville and Will Campos (D-Dist. 2) of Hyattsville; Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Dist. 27) of Chesapeake Beach and Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Dist. 47) of Cheverly who stood with Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker (D) in support of passing state ballot question No. 7.
Passing the measure would allow for table games at the state’s five authorized slots parlors while also allowing for the creation of a sixth site in Prince George’s County. Supporters say the Prince George’s site would create thousands of jobs through the construction and operation of the new site while also generating $49 million in tax revenue for the county and about $200 million for the state, some of which would go to public schools.
Slot opponents question whether the additional revenue would actually make its way to the classroom.
Robinson said he opted to support the measure after consultations with Baker and his staff.
“I’m an economic development guy,” he said. “If the county prospers so will the city.”
City Council members Jimmy Marcos (Dist. 1), Henri Gardner (Dist. 3), Dennis Brady (At large) and Mayor Pro Tem Diane Polangin (Dist. 2) have expressed support for the measure, but the council has not officially supported the issue.
“There are times we weigh in, but I can’t recall us ever weighing in on a referendum question,” Brady said. “I don’t think we’ve been asked.”
Bowie resident James Williams, 81, said Robinson’s support of the measure would have little impact on how he would vote.
“I have no opinion on that,” said Williams who added he has mostly made up his mind on the gambling proposal, but declined to say which way he would vote.
Statewide voters are split on the measure according to polling data released at the close of September by the Arnold-based research firm Gonzales Research and Marketing strategies. The firm’s survey of 813 registered voters found about 45 percent would support the gambling expansion while about 46 percent opposed the measure and an additional 9 percent were undecided.
As time draws closer to the Nov. 6 vote, supporters of the measure will be increasing their outreach efforts, said Barry Hudson, a spokesman for Baker.
“We’ve started to move around and go to public meeting and let people know that the county executive supports question 7 and why,” he said. “Three weeks in an election is significant time.”