"This additional site will be a boa constrictor that will squeeze the life out of Maryland Live," Leopold said.
Maryland's other casino licensees are split over the governor's proposal.
William J. Rickman Jr., principal owner of the casino at Ocean Downs outside Ocean City, said the tax breaks and eased operating restrictions in O'Malley's bill are just what is needed at his struggling venue. He put his losses there at $2.5 million, largely because of the seasonal nature of the business near the beach. "We need relief now. We're losing," Rickman said.
Caesars Entertainment, which recently was awarded the license for the Baltimore casino, reaffirmed its support for the bill. David J. Satz, a spokesman for the firm, said the company is "pleased with the bill" and believes it "sets a fair balance" — the addition of table games and a lower tax rate make up for the increased competition.
Jim Murren, the CEO for MGM Resorts International, which would operate a proposed casino at National Harbor on the Potomac River, said the bill is the result of "thoughtful work" and the company is "completely comfortable working within the contours of the bill."
Murren said he believes "the vast majority" of gamblers at National Harbor would come from out of state, and that the casino wouldn't be poaching market share from Maryland's existing casinos. "It is going to dramatically expand the pie of gaming in the state," he said.
The other company that has said it would want to build a Prince George's casino dissented. Eric Schippers, of Penn National Gaming, said he believes an agreement has been made "behind closed doors" to circumvent competitive bidding and give the casino contract to National Harbor and MGM.
Schippers also expressed outrage that Penn National's Hollywood casino in Cecil County — which has seen a nearly 30 percent dip in business since Maryland Live opened at Arundel Mills — would receive the smallest tax break.
The Hollywood casino, he said, "is now being unfairly, and likely unconstitutionally, singled out to pay a substantially higher tax rate than any other in the state."
After the testimony ended, the committee cast a bipartisan vote in favor of the measure. Only Sen. Ed DeGrange, a Democrat who represents the district that includes Maryland Live, dissented.
Some Democratic senators who have previously supported expanding gambling expressed ambivalence about the bill before them now.
Sen. Bill Ferguson of Baltimore asked for a change in the bill — directing that the city's share of table games revenue be dedicated to school construction in Baltimore. It was accepted without a hitch in committee.
Another change was to a provision to prohibit some casino employees from giving political donations. Sen. George C. Edwards, a Western Maryland Republican, successfully amended the bill to limit donations only from those with greater than a 5 percent stake in a casino.
Senate Minority Leader E. J. Pipkinsaid Republicans object strongly to the process under which O'Malley called the special session — especially the release of the draft gambling bill less than two days before the Senate convened.
"The governor has managed this horribly, and now it'll be up to us to sort through it in the next few days," said Pipkin, who represents the Upper Eastern Shore.
Pipkin introduced a package of bills that he billed as a Republican jobs package. They were referred to the Senate Rules Committee, traditionally a graveyard for measures legislative leaders don't want to consider.
Elsewhere in Annapolis, the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee approved a bill Thursday that would overturn a recent court ruling singling out pit bulls as inherently dangerous. The bill would make owners of any breed liable for their dogs' behavior and exempt the owners' landlords from liability.
A vote on that bill is expected Friday.
Reporter Fakhar-Ur-Rehman Durrani contributed to this article.
The Senate is scheduled to meet Friday at 10 a.m. to debate proposed amendments to the governor's gambling bill and to take a preliminary vote on the legislation.
The House is scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. so the bill can be introduced in that chamber.
The House Ways & Means committee is to meet at 1:30 p.m. for a hearing on the bill.
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