The election is over and the results are in! We have not taken too many political stands on this site over the years for the simple reason that we do not want to roll around in the mud with all the slinging–as my mom used to quip, “it’s all fun and games until someone get’s their eye poked out.” With that said, the election is over, the votes are being tabulated and once certified, we will know the final tallies.
Over the election cycle, I have had the chance to personally talk with many people about the expanded gambling bill and my personal opposition to it and I wanted to share my thought process with you as well. My opposition was not on the entire bill but on parts. I am OK with the expanded number of machines and the addition of table games. I was opposed to the expansion in the number of casinos and in particular the proposed one at National Harbor in Prince George’s County.
We already voted to allow gaming in Maryland in the past election. The existing casinos have not been in operation long enough to be able to obtain a valid measure of success. Success being defined as revenue into the State of Maryland. If they are over-performing, do we need to expand? If they are underperforming, if the expansion just a move to “cover our butts?” Before we can talk intelligently on the issue, we need to understand the facts and numbers behind the issue, and I simply don’t feel that we have them all just yet.
The argument Governor O’Malley made for the expansion was that we were losing millions of dollars to West Virginia. This is the exact argument that was used during the last election to get gaming in the first place. The way the first round was drafted the profit “pie” from the casinos was divided three ways–the operators, the State and the host County. We have a newly-operational casino in Anne Arundel County (although we do not know exactly how beneficial it is to the County financially). By building a sixth casino at the National Harbor in Prince George’s County, we will actually reduce the revenue for Anne Arundel County. Why would someone from Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Calvert County, Charles County, Prince George’s County, St. Mary’s County, and parts of Anne Arundel County travel to Hanover to gamble when it is available at the National Harbor? If PG County wanted it so bad, they should have lobbied for it initially and not flip-flopped with Senate President Mike Miller.
The premise of the expanded gaming is to fund education in Maryland. Again, we have yet to see if the current gaming centers will measurably fund any education initiatives. It is simply too early to tell.
Does Maryland already have too many gaming options? Are we actively moving toward being legitimate competitors to Las Vegas and Atlantic City? In Maryland, we have slots, we will have table games, we have Keno, we have horse racing, bingo parlors and even online sites such as partybingo.com! Do we really need more opportunities to gamble?
Yes, I do realize that it is unfortunate to lose revenue to a neighboring state. But I do not understand how we can make the decision that we need something, when we don’t know how effectively what we already have is working. We don’t order a new car until we determine that the old one no longer serves our needs!
The Question is not a slam dunk either. There has been a lawsuit filed over the language. The Constitution of Maryland requires “a majority of qualified voters in the state” to pass the question, while the question itself states “a majority of the voters in Maryland voting on the question.” Some suggest that in order to pass muster, the question would need to be approved by 65% of all voting Marylanders (assuming a 78% turnout) which seems unlikely as it currently is at 52%.
PS: We have an election coming up next year (City of Annapolis Mayor and Alderman) and another the following year. Should we be more political? Offer opinions and stands? Endorsements? Let us know. Sound off in the comments!