A provision in gambling legislation that Maryland lawmakers touted would give Prince George's County residents the final say over whether to allow a casino in their county is nonbinding but will likely be respected by the legislature.
The bill, which would allow a sixth casino site to be located in Prince George's County and table games at all existing casinos, won't go into effect unless voters statewide approve the measures. And in a wrinkle added by Gov. Martin O'Malley, a local-majority vote of Prince George's County residents would be required to approve the sixth casino.
But an advisory opinion by the Attorney General's Office found the local-majority measure to be impermissible.
The Washington Post reports that O'Malley's staff would include language in the bill making it clear that it's the General Assembly's intent to respect the county vote -- an issue that is unlikely to be challenged by lawmakers.
Any casino building plans in the county must also still comply with Prince George's zoning laws, giving the County Council a chance to block a casino if they choose.
Legislation sponsored by Councilman Eric Olson, D-College Park, tried to prevent slot machines from any area of the county by altering zoning laws last summer, but council members tabled the bill to allow the debate to take its course in the General Assembly.
Lawmakers will return to Annapolis on Aug. 9 to consider gambling expansion.