Friday, October 26, 2007

Slot Machine Madness

I think I'm going crazy. Listen to my hallucinations and then tell me I'm not as nutty as a West Laurelite at a pro development breakfast ...

Hallucination 1 - Maryland has enjoyed a decade of unprecedented growth. Property values and income levels are skyrocketing. So I think we should be in fat city. But I must be as mad as a dingo dog because they tell me we have a $2 billion dollar "structural" deficit.

Hallucination 2 - The Maryland General Assembly has a regular gig. They meet at the same time every year. They hang out in Annapolis from January to April and do the people's business. They write laws, go to dinners, find facts and other very intense things. Annapolis has been this way since lobbyists wore expensive powdered wigs.

But I must be nuts because I heard that the governor called for a special session next week. He must be crazier than me if he thinks Barbara Frush and Jim Rosapepe will roll over any easier on Halloween than on Valentine's Day.

Hallucination 3 - This is my big kahuna bad trip. Please follow me closely, because this is the raving of a lunatic.

  • Gambling is bad.
  • It's said to be addictive and hard on the poor.
  • But the state allows lotteries, keno, horse racing, and scratch offs because the state is addicted to money.
  • Slots are just another type of gambling.
  • But slots are banned in Maryland.
  • The governor says the state is now poor so he's in favor of slots.
  • The state is therefore poor and addicted to gambling.
  • People are fighting like hell to stop slots because slots are gambling and must be banned.
  • Nobody is fighting to get rid of the other forms of gambling.
  • Except barge fulls of lobbyists are grabbing fistfulls of money to lobby both sides.
  • Lobbyists are addicted to money.
  • Therefore lobbyists must be the same as gambling.
  • Maybe we should ban lobbyists?

Please help me.

Please take the Laurel Connections Poll on slots on the left side of this screen. I also encourage you to leave your questions, rants and raves in the comment section.

15 comments:

Fred said...

Rick,

I think I got the same stuff you did because I see it the same way. Our Governor opposed slots when he was Mayor of Baltimore. Now, all of a sudden, they're okay by him. Plus, we get a package of "Revenue Enhancers". Whew! I was afraid he might have tax hikes. Anyway, I'm done with this stuff. The trips are way bad.

Anonymous said...

Rick,

Can I vote twice? I'd like to support slots AND ban lobbyists. Slots, lottery, horse racing, who cares -- it's your money, waste it as you see fit. Gambling's already here, both in Maryland and just a few miles or a free bus ride across the border in any direction. Can we vote to revote on the Governor?

Another Fred.

BTW -- nice blog.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to ask my boss for a "revenue enhancement" when I describe my "structural fiscal challenges" she might advise me to curtail my programmed spending on "Redskin's Outreach" but that's one social program that must be protected! C'mon Gov: "Slots For Skin's"

Stephen McAdams said...

At a recent Laurel Board of Trade Business Forum our local elected representative admitted that slots were on their way - whether they (the elected representatives) like it or not; whether the rest of us like it or not. So now the focus should be on how we minimize the impact, how to control them, how we ensure the profit split, how we spread the income, how we make it as equitable and positive as possible.

Anonymous said...

Right up front, I am in favor of slots. It is silly to allow some gambling (lotteries, horseracing, Keno) and not allow slots. But all proceeds should go to education and the human services that the Governor says are in jeopardy due to the deficit. No more of this “Stadium Authority” nonsense. If it truly is a “tax on the poor”, then let it benefit those being taxed.

And make it egalitarian. Don't confine it to certain areas, or “5 venues.” If there are to be slots in Laurel, there should be slots in Potomac, or Annapolis. Put them in the same locations as the lottery machines. It would bring a new dynamic to the front of our grocery stores - the check-out would no longer be the longest wait. At the locations with Keno, those players would have some company.

Spreading slots around would be one way to address the tax-on-the-poor argument. And if we really want to make slots an equal-opportunity gambling experience, why not enlist that marvel of modern money management, the ATM? Modify every ATM, a machine that already spits out money, to accept wagers and dispense winnings. Every citizen of Maryland could step up to any ATM and choose: Get Cash, Make a Deposit, Transfer Funds, or I Feel Lucky.

Mike McLaughlin

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding that any money that the State gets must go into the General Fund and can't be designated for particular items. Is that correct?
That happened in Atlantic City where the money was supposed to go to education and didn't.

Also,according to a Sun article, slots in Pa., NJ, and W. Va. have not helped their racing industries.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it - any revenue we get from slots will disappear into the vast vague dustbowl of the State sky and no one will ever know exactly where it is going or who it benefits. That's after a thousand hands manage to take their cut first...

Continuing to go down this gambling road as a consistent source of institutional income is a dangerous road - we need to be more fiscally responsible than that. Tax revenue in, state services out. If we're raising taxes, do we really need the slot revenue? (Or vice versa.) Yes we have a big deficit, but we can chip away at it.

Do we really believe that this slot money will be used responsibly? That we'll see our deficit disappear in a few years?
No way - and we'll be stuck with slots forever and apparantly the horse industry will still be in trouble!

Rick Goddard said...

I am somewhat agnostic about slots as long as they are placed in existing gambling venues. I don't gamble, but I don't negatively judge those who do. It's their choice about how they spend their money.

At best this is a short term fix for some longer term fiscal ills. If Maryland has a "structural" deficit then the structure needs to be modified. To be fair, they are talking about structure, but slots seems to have a larger place in the discussion than it probably deserves. This will morph like the lottery (funding education) into something else after a while anyway (casinos?).

Maryland found that slots and the like were unmanageable (and promoted illegal activities) in the 1960's and banned them. What has changed to make all this better now? Perhaps this is all solved and I'm just being over skeptical.

I do get I chuckle watching the politicians flip and flop with the changing party politics. I guess it's entertainment, but it's kind of sad given that these are my representatives empowered to choose the best course of action. I would hope there might be "some" logic in their positions given that they are choosing what is best for Maryland.

I'm still wondering why a special session 2 months before the regular session will accomplish things that they couldn't do in January. I've read all the claims of gloom and doom, but it's hard to believe anyone anymore.

Another Rick

Anonymous said...

Rick;
Why were slots so bad for 4 years and now the be-all, end-all of our financial woes? Could it be, dare I say, political? No, couldn't be. Good thing his tax hikes only hurt the rich, because the poor never buy cigarettes, gas, or pay sales tax.

Keith said...

Anti- or pro-, we should all be able to agree that if we gonna have casinos in Maryland (yep, "video lottery facilities" are casinos), then the state should maximize the benefit to citizens. As the current legislation is written, up to 30% of machine proceeds could go to track owners (on top of the 6% going to horse racing purse subsidies). No. Pay the facilities owners rent on each machine and let the state pocket the 30%.

Keith said...

And for some "insider" insight from a former horse racing executive (and current Laurel resident), check out today's Marc Fisher column in The Washington Post.

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong, but I seem to remember when Erlich left office we had a billion dollar surplus, true?

Nate Hammond
netvillage

Weatherflam said...

Hey...I noticed you have my weather blog in your links! Thanks!

-William M.

James Diggs said...

Hmmmm, I haven’t put much thought into this before, but I’ve always considered gambling just another form of entertainment and had no problem with business or even the state capitalizing on it. However I do think gambling is something people can abuse and I do not want the state to fix its money trouble by taking advantage of the poor. I wonder if slots in particular play to the addicted gamblers weakens more than other forms. (I have no research to support this it’s just a question) Slots have little entertainment value, it’s not a game, there is no strategy (unless you count sitting on a machine); some other forms of gambling, while it too can be abused, have entertainment value in of itself such as horse raising or card games excreta. I don’t know, I just wonder if slots are something that is easier for the gambling attics to abuse, and if so then perhaps this form of gambling is something we shouldn’t ever resort to as a way to fix the states financial issues; but I will have to put some more thought into it.

Bingo Lady said...

anything that generates more money for the government will become available to the public this include slot machines. personally I enjoy slots so im a happy bunny.

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