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 StopPredatoryGambling.org 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.
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