Prince George's voters favor, no wait, oppose casino

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Local,Maryland,Ben Giles

Public support for Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker’s proposed $1 billion casino is either growing or waning, depending on which opinion poll you read.

A poll conducted over the weekend by Annapolis-based OpinionWorks found that those in support of bringing a Las Vegas-style casino to the National Harbor outnumber the opposition by 2-to-1.

Commissioned by the Washington D.C. Building Trades Council, the poll even highlights a 52 percent approval rating for the casino plan among church-going voters – only 35 percent of whom oppose gambling coming to Prince George’s.

“There is strong support for a world-class resort casino in Prince George’s County, and we believe that County Executive Baker’s proposal for National Harbor is the right concept to fulfill that vision,” said Vance T. Ayres, treasurer of the D.C. Building Trades Council.

But another poll, conducted by American University professor Frank DuBois shortly before Baker revealed his casino plans, found that voters overwhelmingly oppose legalizing gambling in Prince George’s.

Of the 500 respondents, 61 percent don’t want gambling to come to the county, and 65 percent say they believe a casino would increase crime and harm the counties residents, according to DuBois. The poll was commissioned by Family Faith Future, a county-based religious group.

Baker's gamble for a $1 billion casino at National Harbor could bring in roughly $50 million in annual tax revenue for Prince George's — about $29 million in gambling revenue and another $20 million from local property and amusement taxes, according to estimates from his administration.

The county executive is expected to testify before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on Wednesday regarding a referendum bill to bring slots to Prince George’s County and allow table games at casinos throughout Maryland.

Regardless of their position on slots, Prince George’s County residents want to vote on the issue, according to the OpinionWorks poll – 92 percent of voters said they want the issue to go to referendum in November.

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