All bets off for gambling bills this year

January 16, 1997


Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - What a difference a year makes.

Last year, members of Washington County's delegation to the General Assembly agonized over controversial tip jar gaming legislation, passage of which took the entire 90 days of the session.

This year there will be no bill.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has vowed to veto any gambling laws. Even though the county bill likely would have been relatively minor, and not aimed at expanding gambling, delegation members said any piece of gaming legislation would be in trouble this year.

"I think we're all of the same opinion the governor has made it very clear where he is on this issue," said Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, who chairs the county delegation.


"It's just as well that we don't do anything," said Sen. John W. Derr, R-Frederick/Washington.

The Washington County Commissioners had proposed a list of amendments to the current gaming law, including provisions that would have:

  • Eliminated a provision that would require the county to fund nonprofit groups at the same level as the prior year.
  • Allowed members of the gaming commission to serve as directors and officers of nonprofit groups.

County Commissioner Gregory I. Snook said the amendments were not especially crucial to local gaming law, unlike last year's package that required fraternal clubs for the first time to make charitable donations from tip jar proceeds.

"I think (the package of amendments) was just to help make it easier for the gaming commission. I don't think there were any substance changes," he said.

Nonetheless, delegation members seemed relieved they will not spend their days in Annapolis sifting through the details of more gambling regulations.

"It frees up time for other, more important issues," Donoghue said.

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