Slots In Maryland — Uncertainty

Posted on October 22, 2008

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The Washington Post is reporting that its latest poll shows 62 percent of likely Maryland voters support slot machines, and 36 percent are opposed. The poll finds only 2 percent undecided.

These findings contrast with the Gonzales poll in early September, which found 49 percent supporting slots and 43 percent opposing.

The vote on Nov. 4 will be closer than 62-36, I believe, but slots proponents appear to be clearly in the lead. However, opponents of a constitutional amendment to allow 15,000 slot machines at five locations in Maryland should not lose heart.

First, much of the slots support is soft, especially in neighborhoods close enough to be directly affected by one of the five slots casinos. Second, voters who oppose slots are more strongly motivated than slots proponents.

But I think the most important factor is uncertainty about the real effects of slot machines in Maryland.

We have entered a period of economic uncertainty and economic peril not seen since the Great Depression. People are worried about the loss of homes, savings and jobs. In this recession environment, will thoughtful voters be willing to gamble, literally, on bringing 15,000 slot machines into Maryland? Slot machines will mean more lost money, more lost savings, more lost homes, more strained marriages, more suicide, more crime.

The only poll that counts is on Nov. 4. No one can really predict how many voters will choose to roll the dice on risk and human suffering, and how many voters will decide to play it safe and vote against slots. — Bernie Hayden

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