Slots In Maryland, A Mad Gamble

Posted on November 2, 2008


Voting for slot machines in the Maryland referendum is like poking yourself in both eyes with a stick. Ouch!

Why would anyone do that?

Here are the mad reasons why otherwise prudent voters will fall for the seductive promise of slot machines on Tuesday:

  1. The money would help Maryland’s public schools. Really? Private casino operators would take 33 percent of the profits off the top. (And they are loudly complaining that they need more than 33 percent.) Racetracks, the horse-racing industry and the state lottery would get 11.5 percent of the slots money. Another 5.5 percent would go to local impact grants. What’s left (less than half the money) would go to education.
  2. The money would bail out the failing horse-racing industry. Yes, the horse-racing industry would get a big welfare check from slots. Hey, if you like socialized banking and socialized insurance, you’ll love socialized horse racing. BTW, subsidizing horse racing is like subsidizing the buggy whip industry. Marylanders go to see the Orioles and the Ravens, the Nationals and the Redskins. Marylanders like soccer and lacrosse. Do you know anyone who goes to horse races?
  3. Without slots, Maryland’s horse farms will shut down. Not exactly. Seems to me that very few of the horses eating grass in Maryland pastures are thoroughbred racehorses. Most horses are owned by people who love horses, and enjoy horseback riding and horse shows. Let the racing industry die a peaceful death. There will always be horses in Maryland.
  4. Slots will keep Maryland gambling money from going to Delaware and West Virginia. Right. The big Canadian gambling company will send its profits to Toronto. That will keep Maryland money out of Delaware. More to the point, money Marylanders spend at out-of-state casinos is a small price to pay for protecting Maryland from the toxic fallout that follows gambling: family bankruptcy, broken marriages, increased poverty, crime, prostitution, and gambling addiction.
  5. People enjoy playing the slots. It’s relaxing. No problem. Slots in Delaware and West Virginia are close enough to enjoy, and far enough away not to become addicted. Atlantic City for slots is a nice day trip.
  6. Maryland needs the money to avoid raising taxes. Slots are a tax! Slots tax the poor. It’s the most unjust tax. Just because we’re already taking money from the poor through the Maryland Lottery does not mean that we should add slot machines. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Anything else? Yes, one thing more. There’s enough gambling money in slots to corrupt Maryland politics until the end of time. — Bernie Hayden