Casinos could give free cash to table game players under a bill passed by the House of Delegates Thursday. The measure now heads to the state Senate.
Proponents said the change is necessary to allow Maryland casinos to compete with in what Del. Eric Luedtke called "what's becoming the most competitive gaming market in the country."
The bill allows casinos to give money to players in "promotional play," a marketing device to entice gamblers to Maryland's new table games, without having to count that cash as a casino profit. State law requires 15 percent of table game proceeds to go to a state education fund and 5 percent to certain local governments.
Casinos are already allowed to give away freebies to slot machine players; last year, casino operators across the state gave away $26.7 million in free play, according to a legislative analysis. Casinos in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware exempt promotional play at table games from profits, though Delaware sets a limit on how much can be given away, the analysis found. New Jersey does not allow promotional play to be exempted from proceeds.
The bill, which passed in the House 97-35, drew opposition from some lawmakers who argued Maryland was not doing enough to prevent
"We want to take this hook and put it right in your mouth," Del. Luiz Simmons, a Democrat from
Del. Frank Turner, a Democrat from
Other lawmakers took issue with whether the free cash was diverting money that would otherwise be set aside for education. Luedtke, a