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Slots foes gather at National Harbor

Developers of the upscale National Harbor in Prince George's have long proclaimed that they have no interest in slot machine gambling.

And slots foes, gathered at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center there, intend to keep it that way. Approving a referendum allows slot machines elsewhere in the state, they argued, could make gambling too hard to resist and National Harbor...or Inner Harbor...or dowtown Bethesda.
"Let's face it, the gambling industry is going to go where the money and the people are," said Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), a vocal opponent of the November ballot measure to legalize slots. "What a shame it would be, after fighting for quality development here in Prince George's County, to have this jewel hijacked by the gambling industry and turned into a casino."

Amie Gorrell, a spokeswoman for Gaylord National, said, "Slots have never been slated for Gaylord and that has never been part of our overall plan, and it's not something we are interested in getting into."

National Harbor developers did not respond to a request for comment.

The ballot proposal calls for up to 15,000 slot machines to be placed in venues in Baltimore and in Allegany, Anne Arundel, Cecil and Worcester counties. The General Assembly would have to approve additional legislation to allow gaming elsewhere in the state.

The decision by and the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling to hold their two-day event at National Harbor was strategic. Tom Grey, field director for the coalition, said Gaylord was chosen because the resort, which booked more than 1 one million rooms before its opening this spring, has been successful without slots or casinos.

"We wanted a high-end resort area that is free of gambling," he said.

By Phyllis Jordan  |  September 27, 2008; 8:29 AM ET
Categories:  Lisa Rein  
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Next: Ehrlich Calls Slots Referendum "Bad Policy"


Foes of the big upcoming property tax increase in Montgomery County have gathered in every county neighborhood to express support for Question B which makes it more difficult for the Leggett-Knapp property tax increase team to raise property taxes.

Posted by: Property tax hikes are scarier than slots | September 27, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Sure, property tax hike are scary, but less scary when property values and house prices are falling.

I personally find the slots referendum much "scarier" than a tax hike. Here's why:

When the economy bounces back (if it does) we can lower taxes...its been done before.

However, if we make the decision to start Maryland on a track of depending on gambling revenue, it will be near impossible to ever throw the corporate gambling interests out of the state.

So, lets ask ourselves the question "Do I really want Maryland to begin depending on gambling revenue?"

I do not.

Posted by: Donny | September 27, 2008 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Donny, people can *choose* not to gamble. When times get tough (like right now) I can cut back on the money I spend on non-essentials. However the increase in my property tax bill and the sales tax are making times tougher than they should be, because I have no choice. The state needs to reduce spending to levels it can sustain through hard times when revenue from all sources go down. If they want to cut it from the ICC as you've recommended in the past that's fine with me.

Now I think there are legitimate reasons for opposing this referendum. First is that the revenues may never be realized. Since they haven't actually promised to lower taxes if this goes through it may just lead to more unsustainable state spending. Another is that it seems fishy to write a constitutional amendment which gives privileges to a few locations in the state which others do not have. I don't think this is clear cut.

It's a shame the discussion never seems to revolve around whether or not there actually is a large group of people who *want* to gamble, because people should have the right to spend their own money on whatever they want -- even if others view it as a personal vice. I think those people, if they are there, should be the ones to speak out, not just those who only care about the revenue. Silence implies consent.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Sorry Donny. Do you know that there has never been one instance where a state lowered its sales tax? The Montgomery County Budget went from $2 billion in FY 98 to $3 billion in FY 04 to $4.2 billion now. Taxes are NEVER lowered. We are looking at a 15% to 20% property tax hike next year. And property values have dropped below assessments. Vote FOR B! Save Our Homes! People are MUCH more concerned about property taxes than slots despite the Post's one-sided drumbeat.

Posted by: Robin Ficker, Broker Robin Realty | September 29, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Slots in any area are letting the camels nose in the tent. It is like being a little bit pregnant. Or lets put slots in all government buildings, and let the employees decide how to spend their lunch hour and money.

Posted by: Apilgrim | September 29, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

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