Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Thu March 05 2015

Proposal to Bring Slot Machines to BWI Airport Gaining Momentum?

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | March 05, 2015

Proposal to Bring Slot Machines to BWI Airport Gaining Momentum?

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Air travelers who frequent Baltimore-Washington International Airport may soon be able to gamble while they await their flight. 

According to Erin Cox of the Baltimore Sun, Del. Eric M. Bromwell's proposal to put 2,500 slot machines at BWI, which has been struck down in committee in each of the past six years, is no longer being actively opposed by airport officials.

"We're not opposing it, we're not supporting," said Maryland Aviation Administration chief of staff Dale Hilliard in an interview. "The new administration wanted to take a look at everything."

What's more, the House Ways and Means Committee has 13 new members who have yet to vote down the proposal.

While Bromwell's dream remains a longshot to become reality, the change in attitude signals a significant step in his master plan, which would place a higher concentration of slot machines at BWI than at Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport. 

Bromwell has also assured the Maryland General Assembly that the bill would limit slot machines to the corners of the airport, with only travelers over 21 years old allowed to go inside.

"Unless you have a ticket to get on a plane, you wouldn't be able to drive to the airport to play," said Bromwell. 

That's an important rule because it means the airport wouldn't be competing with nearby casinos like Maryland Live! at Arundel Mills and the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore.

The ultimate goal of Bromwell's proposal is to bolster the state's transportation fund via BWI slot money. "The idea behind this is to capture money from people who are not Maryland residents," said Bromwell. "You have a new governor who wants to raise revenue without raising taxes."

A spokeswoman for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the administration isn't "going to comment on bills until they're closer to the governor's desk."

If slots are to eventually become available to air travelers at BWI, the proposal would first have to be approved by the legislature and then by Maryland voters in 2016. 

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