CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Maryland voters sent the state of West Virginia a message Tuesday: They want their money back.
Now West Virginia's largest casino is looking at legal options to fight off new competition from its eastern neighbor.
By 52 percent to 48 percent, Maryland voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing table games in the state and approving construction of a new casino in Prince George's County, near Washington.
Maryland leaders offered the initiative as a way to boost funding for state schools, as well as create up to 2,000 construction and 4,000 casino jobs.
Known as Question 7, the initiative was hotly contested and drew more than $90 million in campaign spending from competing foes in the casino industry.
At odds were casino giants MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming.
Penn National runs the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town. It funneled more than $40 million into the race in an effort to protect business at its West Virginia casino.
MGM, which hopes to build a new casino at National Harbor along the Potomac River, dumped more than $45 million into a campaign for the initiative.
While the casino giants were pulling the strings, their campaigns portrayed the issue as more of a border battle between the two states.
For Maryland Jobs & Schools - a political action committee funded in part by MGM - financed a private study that said the Charles Town casino made more than $1 billion off Maryland residents in the past decade.
If the ballot initiative was rejected, the study said Charles Town would probably siphon another $1.5 billion from the Maryland economy over the next 10 years.
The MGM-funded group went so far as to write a parody of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads," for use in its campaign.
"Maryland cash, bring it back, to the state where it comes from," the re-worked chorus said. "Not West Virginia, don't let 'em spin ya. Bring it back, our Maryland cash."
Another ad featured Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and former Baltimore Ravens tackle Jonathan Ogden.
Both said they weren't happy about West Virginia getting the state's money.
"Question 7 means thousands of jobs and millions for our schools, but these West Virginia casinos want to keep it all for themselves," Rawlings-Blake said as she stood in front of the 6-foot-9-inch Ogden.
"So join us, and vote for Question 7," she said. "And West Virginia, don't make me send Jonathan Ogden over there."
The Penn National-funded Vote No On 7 PAC said Maryland leaders were overselling the claims of school funding and job creation. It said most of the money raised at the casinos would go into the pockets of special interests in the gaming industry.
Kevin McLaughlin, spokesman for Vote No On 7, said the group was disappointed in the results and pledged to fight the matter in court.