Miller and Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III have strongly backed a plan to locate a casino at National Harbor, and the bill the Senate passed would have left Rosecroft owner Penn National Gaming ineligible for a license in the county.
Scott Peterson, a spokesman for Baker, said the county executive "greatly appreciates Gov. O'Malley's efforts on this issue," but declined to comment further.
Busch said any final deal would protect the interests of Baltimore and other localities that either host casinos now or have authorization for licenses. He said a deal would also include protection for existing and license holders.
He also said he expected decisions about whether to change the 67 percent slots tax rate paid by casinos would be made by legislators rather than shifted to a gaming commission, as some had suggested.
Joe Weinberg, a spokesman for the Cordish Cos., said any gambling expansion now would harm Maryland Live, which opened in June and is the state's largest casino.
"We continue to feel strongly that it is not in the best interests of Maryland, nor is it fair, to consider changing the rules pertaining to gambling in Maryland prior to the five casinos authorized in Maryland's constitution being open and stabilized," Weinberg said. "No other state in the country has ever considered expanding its number of gaming licenses before its initial facilities were open and stable, for the obvious reason that one cannot assess the risk of cannibalization without actual performance data."
While Cordish has opposed a gambling expansion, the sole contender for the casino license authorized for Baltimore has supported an arrangement that would allow table games as part of legislation authorizing a Prince George's casino. Caesars Entertainment contends it could build a more luxurious and lucrative facility if it could offer such attractions as blackjack and roulette rather than remaining a slots-only casino.
Assembly Republicans have expressed opposition to calling a special session, arguing that any gambling expansion should be considered during the legislature's regular session next January. Del. Glen Glass of Harford County has urged a boycott by the 43-member House GOP caucus — a symbolic gesture because the House's 98 Democrats can muster a quorum on their own.
O'Donnell said his caucus is still discussing its options on a boycott and declined to say whether the GOP would be unanimous in opposing any gambling expansion bill this summer. But he called the prospect of taking up other legislation that some delegations may seek as part of a gambling deal "disgusting and something that federal investigators are going to want to look at."
Busch sidestepped the question of whether he was counting on any Republican votes to reach the 71 needed to pass a bill. The speaker expressed hope that all legislators would cast their votes on the merits of the bill rather than the politics.
"I hate to think there's any group out there that just wants to stand in the way of legislation that's going forward," he said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector contributed to this article.