Md. bill proposes slot machines at BWI Airport

There are lots of ways to pass the time at an airport such as stopping by restaurants and stores. Now some lawmakers in Maryland want to add gambling to that list. A state committee is hearing a bill to add thousands of slot machines to BWI Airport.

The backers of this bill say it is a win-win for gamblers and taxpayers. For stranded passengers waiting for a flight, it would give them access to gaming machines while they wait for flights. For Maryland residents, it could bring in $15 to $20 million to the state's transportation fund without raising any taxes.

The Maryland House Ways and Means Committee began taking testimony on the bill on Tuesday. The bill would put a referendum on the ballot asking voters if they want to expand Maryland gambling beyond seven locations to include slots at BWI Airport.

The bill would add as many as 2,500 slot machines to the airport, but the machines would be behind the security lines, so only ticketed passengers would be able to use them. They would also be kept in slots rooms instead of spread out around the terminal.

Maryland Delegate Eric Bromwell does not think the new slot machines would hurt business at the nearby Maryland Live! and Horseshoe casinos.

"This is for people who are landing in BWI, they have money to spend, they have time to spend, if they want to donate some money to our transportation infrastructure, then I think that's a good thing," said Del. Bromwell.

The Maryland Aviation Administration, which operates BWI Airport, has opposed the idea in the past.

Meanwhile, Maryland casinos have just received permission to remove hundreds slot machines from their floors to make room for the more popular table games.

Backers of the slot machines have tried to get this bill passed twice before, but now say they like their odds this time after a big turnover in the legislature and a new governor here in Annapolis.