Maryland voters can add expanded gaming to the list of referendum issues they'll be asked to vote on in November.
The Senate early Wednesday morning voted 32-14 to accept a gaming bill amended hours earlier by the House of Delegates.
But a bill meant to overturn a controversial Court of Appeals ruling that declared pit bulls an inherently dangerous dog breed failed after Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said the House gave senators a "take it or leave it" ultimatum.
"The House said take our amendments or nothing and the two committees weren't able to work out an agreement," said Miller.
The Senate was able to reach a separate peace on the gaming bill where senators quickly agreed to all of the amendments delegates put on the bill Tuesday night.
The biggest of those late amendments was a provision to allow so-called pull tab bingo machines in VFW and other veterans clubs around the state.
House Minority Leader Tony O'Donnell said the provision, which has been routinely rejected by legislators in the past, was the price House Speaker Michael Busch was willing to pay in order to get the 71 votes he needed to pass the bill.
Busch called O'Donnell's comments "an assumption."
Del. Joseph "Sonny" Minnick, a Dundalk Democrat and sponsor of the amendment, denied that there was a quid pro quo and said his amendment was about protecting veterans clubs around the state that are suffering from poor finances due to declining membership.
The House bill also included provisions to provide up to an 8 percent offset to Maryland Live casino and an additional 6 percent in revenues to an as yet unbuilt city casino location.
Voters must approve the expansion of gaming to a sixth location in the area that include both National Harbor and Rosecroft Raceway. A majority of Prince George's County voters are required to vote in favor of a site in their county—something they rejected in 2008.
If approved, a Prince George's County location cannot open before July 1, 2016 or 30 months following the opening of the city location, whichever comes first.
Miller predicted a battle would be waged by opponents and proponents of the Prince George's County site.
"These ads you see about Romney and Barack Obama, they're going to be dwarfed," said Miller. "They're absolutely going to be dwarfed in the Washington media market by MGM and Penn National. It's going to be a television war. It's going to be police involved, the firefighters involved, the school teachers involved. it's going to be hand-to-hand combat. In terms of whether or not the people of Maryland will continue to go to West Virginia or keep the money at home and play these machines."