Community reacts to Redskins' involvement
Dick Uliano, WTOP reporter
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Washington Redskins on Tuesday urged their fans to support a ballot question in Maryland to expand gambling, a high-profile endorsement for efforts to allow a casino in the Maryland county where the team plays its home games near the nation's capital.
Dennis Greene, president of the team's business operations, said in the statement that the team was proud to join with elected officials and business partners to endorse the proposal.
"As members of the Prince George's County business community, we see it as our obligation to speak out in support of major economic development initiatives," Greene said in the statement.
Greene also noted that the team views the issue as an opportunity to create thousands of good-paying jobs, increase funding for public schools and help raise money for state and local government services.
"We urge all our fans to join the Washington Redskins organization in supporting Question 7 on Election Day," Greene said.
Voters will be deciding whether to allow table games like blackjack and roulette at Maryland casinos, which now only allow slot machines. They also will be deciding whether to allow a casino in Prince George's County.
Supporters and opponents have been waging a major battle in television advertising that is bombarding voters who will be weighing a variety of ballot questions in November, including whether to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland. More than $32 million has been spent on advertising so far by both sides of the gambling debate, with more than a month to go before Election Day.
"I think that as voters are besieged with so many commercials on this issue on both sides, they are looking for validators to help them clarify their position by having a brand that is popular and trusted throughout the state such as the Redskins," said Scott Peterson, a spokesman for Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, who has been out front in supporting the gambling expansion.
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International wants to build a casino at National Harbor near Washington. The company envisions an $800 million casino near the Potomac River with about 4,000 slot machines and 200 table games.
Maryland lawmakers approved the gambling expansion in August during a special session called by Gov. Martin O'Malley.
In a statement released to WTOP, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot writes:
"With all due respect to a team that is beloved by so many, this referendum will not be decided by Dan Snyder and the Washington Redskins. It will be decided by working families who are tired of the lies and broken promises that are being peddled by the national gambling industry, and who are disgusted by a corrosive political system that would cut taxes for billionaire casino owners while raising taxes on the rest of us.
As a ‘Skins fan, the Comptroller respectfully encourages them to focus on the important tasks at hand, such as protecting RG III, shoring up their kicking game and making sorely-needed improvements to one of the league's lowest-ranked defenses."
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