A bill expanding casinos in Maryland has been passed by the Senate. The bill would add a sixth casino to the five slot parlors approved in 2008. The measure would also expand the type of games allowed, with provisions to allow table games like blackjack and roulette.
The bill would allow a license to be awarded for a sixth casino to be built in Prince George’s County. As a concession for the added competition, the tax rate on slot earnings would be reduced by 7 percent. Maryland’s tax rate on slots is among the highest in the nation, originally set at 67%.
Another reduction in tax rate is in the bill, this one associated with a fundamental change in the business setup of the casinos. Currently, the state owns the actual slot machines and leases them to the casinos. The new setup would have the casinos themselves responsible for purchasing equipment instead in exchange for a rate reduction.
Although the bill easily passed the Senate today with a vote of 35-11, it is expected to have a tougher reception in the House.
Of the five already approved slot parlors, two are already open, with a third slated to open this summer.