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Rawlings-Blake Appears in Pro-Casino Ad

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake brings on the muscle in a just-released ad warning voters that casino owners in West Virginia are behind the opposition for the proposed gambling expansion strategy on the Nov. six ballot.

In the ad, the former Ravens star Jonathan Ogden looms more than the mayor like a mammoth bodyguard as Rawlings-Blake delivers her pitch in favor of Question 7, which among other points would enable table games in the planned Harrah’s casino in Baltimore.

Rawlings-Blake becomes the latest elected official to join inside the ad campaign for gambling expansion. The campaign is largely financed by MGM Resorts International, which desires to make a casino at National Harbor when the referendum passes, and by Caesars Entertainment, the biggest companion in the Baltimore casino.

While Gov. Martin O’Malley, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett have all appeared in pro-Question 7 advertisements, none has had a co-star like Ogden, a former All-Pro offensive lineman.

In the 30-second spot, Rawlings-Blake says the West Virginia casino owners are spending millions of dollars to defeat Question 7.

“That upsets me, and that upsets Jonathan Ogden,” she says. “And you do not need to upset Jonathan Ogden.”

“No, you do not,” Ogden intones, struggling to seem fierce but essentially coming across as a rather sweet guy.

Rawlings-Blake’s charge is actually a reference to Penn National Gaming, owner of a sizable casino in Charles Town, W. Va., that could shed a lot of its small business to a casino at National Harbor. Penn National has spent over $25 million on ads opposing Maryland’s gambling expansion plan. The mayor’s take: Question 7 would bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to Maryland but “these West Virginia gambling casinos would like to maintain it all for themselves.”

Her kicker: “West Virginia, don’t make me send Jonathan Ogden over there.”

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