ANNAPOLIS - A planned Prince George's County casino that was projected to help the state bring in an extra $223 million in education funding appeared dead Wednesday after a work group created by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley recommended against a special session to expand gambling in the state.
Members of the commission reached agreements on every issue related to an expansion of gambling, but lawmakers in the House of Delegates broke ranks from the governor's staff and state senators on proposed adjustments to the state tax rate on slot machines, now set at 67 percent.
Delegates said they simply could not stomach giving casino operators a tax break, despite estimates from state analysts that Maryland could earn an additional $223 million a year in education funding if the rate was lowered and a Prince George's casino was built.
All three voting members of the work group -- Del. Peter Hammen, D-Baltimore; Del. Sheila Hixson, D-Montgomery; and Del. Frank Turner, D-Howard -- voted against recommendations to authorize a sixth casino while changing the tax rate.
Members of O'Malley's staff called the work group's conclusion "a lost opportunity."
"For some reason suddenly the House decided they did not want to share on that consensus for reasons that don't make a whole lot of sense to me, and reasons that were not voiced, really, heretofore," O'Malley told reporters in Baltimore on Wednesday. "And so I can't entirely explain it to you."
He added: "I look forward to hearing back from the speaker of the House sometime."