Question A: Slots At The Mall

| September 24, 2010
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The politics and rhetoric are heating up surrounding the infamous “Question A” which will appear on the ballot in November. Both sides are claiming the other is deceitful.  We have not received a mailer from the pro-slots camp, but based on this one from the No Slots At The Mall people, it is obvious that they are distorting facts and trading on fear and innuendo.

This image is the cover. It certainly seems that the UPS-esque deliveryman is pushing his slot machine into the mall. The assumption that most people will make from this photo is that while the kids are pumping quarters into the gumball machines, mom and dad will be pumping them in the slot machines! Is this true? Not at all!  The slots parlor is in a separate building on a separate parcel of land and is detached from the mall. Do the No Slots At The Mall people believe that the Sheraton in Annapolis is “in” the Annapolis Mall? Do they think that there is a full blown campus of Anne Arundel County Community College “in” the mall?  An informed voter will see this ad for what it is. But it appears that No Slots At The Mall may be targeting the uninformed.

Let’s take a look at the interior.

Well, they got one out of three correct. Yes, on November 2nd, we will vote on Question A.   But it is not “simply” a vote to stop the slots at Arundel Mills. It is a vote to overturn zoning for slots ANYWHERE in Anne Arundel County. The law that was passed was for slots to be located in specific zoning designations. The two designations are Laurel Park and near Arundel Mills Mall.  So stopping slots near the mall will effectively stop slots in the county.

But they don’t let you know that. On this page, they declare that “we can find” and “we’ll find” a more appropriate place for slots. Perhaps if anyone from the No Slots At The Mall camp is reading this (Brion Umidi, Treasurer, perhaps?), they can leave a comment and let us know where all of these other locations might be.

Remember, back in 2008, the voters of Maryland, Anne Arundel County, and the district surrounding Arundel Mills all voted overwhelmingly in favor of having slots in the areas designated by the change in the State’s Constitution.  Slots were allowed (subject to local zoning approvals) in Anne Arundel County within 2 miles of MD 295.

So, as we wait to receive the pro-slots mailer, we offer these contradictions to ponder. Maybe someone will be able to clarify them.

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Category: COLUMNS, OPINION, The Observer

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  • Eddie Money

    Well put and a very important distinction that the pro-slots camp should be pounding home to voters. A “no” vote would kill slots ANYWHERE in Anne Arundel County–not just at Arundel Mills Mall.

  • Eddie Money

    Strike that…reverse it….A “Yes” vote would kill slots ANYWHERE in Anne Arundel County.

    • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

      Eddie–this is incorrect. YES or FOR vote is one to uphold the zoning bill and allow slots to proceed in the designated areas, the only one under consideration is the site near Arundel Mills.

      A NO or AGAINST vote is to overturn the zoning bill and specifically disallow slots in the Commercial or W1 areas in the County, effectively killing the chance for slots ANYWHERE in the county!

  • Philip Meyer

    When people say they park “at the Mall” I don’t assume that means their car was located within the physical structure of the mall. I think most people understand the casino would be in a separate building that would be short walk from the Mall, however, that still doesn’t make it a good idea.

    The larger point is the traffic is already terrible around the mall and the casino will make it far worse. Plus, eventually the casino will attract 24 liquor consumption and strip clubs that populate every other block in Atlantic City.

    It is also not correct to say should the Prop A fail, there would be no slots anywhere. Bill 81-09 that Leopold vetoed would have allowed a casino south of Highway 32. The potential locations embodied in that bill could be considered if the Mall proposal goes down.

    • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

      Philip–how do you explain the graphic of the UPS man delivering a slot machine INTO the mall? Personally, if I was to use the term “park at the mall” it likely woudl be in conjunction with going someplace else. Park at the mall and go to the ball game. Park at the mall and then go to the casino. But it does seem the Stop Slots folks are explicitly implying that the slots are indeed going IN the mall.

      Traffic. There are infrastructure improvements to address this including exits directly into the slot’s parking lot (not at the mall). Look at Fedex Field for an example. Yes it is crazy on game day, but the slot’s place is not going to draw 100K people all at once.

      Strip clubs? That is an entirely different zoning classification and is very difficult to obtain and maintain. ANd to my knowledge there is only one in AA county (Macdougals in Pasadena) and I believe that is a BYOB deal.

      Have you looked at the zoning maps? Can you identify a single 50 acre property (state law) that lays within the W-1 or Commercial classification? I have not found any. Sure the owner of a mobile home park may sell, but then the zoning woudl need to be changed to the proper classification and back at square one.

  • Philip Meyer

    John, thanks for your response. I see a guy wheeling a slot machine in front of the mall, not going into it. I will grant you some people might conclude it is going inside but I don’t think its as obvious as you suggest. I’m not even sure the distinction is that meaningful. If you’ve ever been to the Mall that’s across the street from Bally’s in Atlantic City. Yes, its a separate building but you walk out the door of the mall and you walk smack into the casino.

    Even if the claim does imply slots would be in the mall, I’m not sure its any worse than some of things the pro-side has said. Someone tried to tell me the other day that should Prop A fail, it would require a constitutional change to put slots at the track. That isn’t true.

    Bill 81-09 envisioned a location south of I-32 and its my understanding the track and two other sites would be possibilities.

    The traffic changes you cite would do little to alleviate the overall traffic. As far as I know there are no plans to add extra lanes to the streets around the mall, the traffic already stinks and this will make it worse. Cordish may talk vaguely about future adjustments but the only certainty is the casino would come, everything else would just be hoped for.

    As for strip clubs, they might not be there when the casino first goes up but they’d be there eventually. I’ve never been to casino location that didn’t have them.

    • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

      Philip. If 81-09 is overturned, it will prevent slots at Arundel Mills AND Laurel Park. So what woudl need to happen for them to come to Laurel is to repeal the repeal or re-zone Laurel park to an acceptable classification to accept the slots. I am unaware of any other parcels in the constitutionally mandated area that fit the bill. Sure there are some outside the 2 mile swath of 295 but none within it.

  • Eddie Money

    John: Sorry about that; I proceeded to confuse myself while reading the post. How do you like the recent acts of vandalism to the anti-slots signs that have been posted conspicuously close to pro-slots signs on Ritchie Highway and elsewhere??

    • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

      I have seen it. Almost like they are spawning little ones. Might be a good idea. Who knows.

  • Paige

    I received a direct mail piece from the Penn National/NoSlots people this weekend. It showed a picture of a mother with the headline, “If slots come to Arundel Mills I won’t be able to drop my kids at the Mall anymore”. Seriously? Who is leaving their children unattended at the mall (with or without a casino located nearby)????. This is just another example of the absurdist and decietful tactics the No Slots campaign has been using all along.

    • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

      Paige, I am looking at that right now too. And I agree with you–maybe if Kristal Wardell is used ot leaving her two kids at the mall,–maybe se needs to worry about being a better parent. Her children (if those are hers in the inner shot) look borderline (IMHO) old enough to be left alone at the mall. I also question how often a family from Crownsville goes to Arundel Mills Mall to begin with when the Annapolis Mall is right around the corner.

      And I also find it amusing that if there is such an uproar on the moral issues of gambling, why isn’t anyone complaining about the tattoo parlor in the Annapolis Mall or Spencer Gifts who has a large selection of “adult novelties”?

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  • Jan

    So if we vote against question A, how long would it take to have slots allowed in Anne Arundel County or PG County?

    • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

      Under the MD constitution there are not slots allowed in PG County. So to get them there, there woudl have to be another referrendum to ALLOW them there and that could not happen until the 2014 election—so sometime after 2015 and of course PG County woudl need to do their zoning thing.

      FOr AA it is a little less clear. We are able to have slots within two miles of MD 295 between Baltimore City and the PG line. They can go anywhere in that area (outside that area, you need another constitutional change and you are looking at the 2014 election again) subject to the COUnty ZOning. So you need to 1 find a suitable place (keeping in mind that a vote against A will also pull Laurel out of the running), get a suitable developer, likley change the zoning to accomodate it and build it. Again I woudl guess 2015 or later at the learliest.