Slots for MoCo?
Gov. Martin O'Malley's labor secretary and a Montgomery legislator traded barbs yesterday afternoon on NewsChannel 8 over the legalization of slot machines in a preview of the General Assembly's upcoming debate.
Labor Secretary Tom Perez defended his recent report that found that the state is "leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table" when Maryland residents travel to West Virginia and Delaware to gamble. Money, he said, that could be used to pay for schools and health care.
Montgomery Del. Luiz Simmons, a critic of slots, questioned the credibility of Perez's findings, which he said ignored the social ills associated with gambling. He then challenged Perez, a former Montgomery County Council member, to commit to locating the machines in the county, where legislators and many residents have historically opposed efforts to legalize slots.
Simmons asked Perez if he was prepared to commit to putting slots parlors in Rockville, Potomac and Silver Spring. "If it's okay for Laurel and as benign as you suggest it is, why don't you let everyone know right now that you are prepared to put them and the governor is prepared to put them in Montgomery County."
Perez gracefully declined to answer. "As you know Del. Simmons, being a member of the legislature, the Assembly is going to decide whether to have slots and where to have slots."
"I think that's a decision that's going to be made in conjunction with the Legislature and they will take community input into account," Perez said.
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