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Posted at 7:33 PM ET, 12/ 4/2009

The wrong place for slots

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Rob Annicelli,
President, Stop Slots at Arundel Mills

In November 2008, Marylanders voted to open the door to slot-machine gambling out of a desire to prop up the horse racing industry and supplement the state budget. Few of them expected to run into an extremely well-funded effort to locate a slots casino at a family-friendly regional mall. Most who voted yes figured the casinos would wind up at the state’s racetracks because of all the money the racing industry spent helping to get the referendum passed.

It was a classic bait-and-switch.

For nearly two decades, Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold (R) opposed slots, but then he switched positions. Then, when he submitted his slots zoning legislation, he took an even more egregious stance by not including real protections for residents. Baltimore City residents get a quarter-mile buffer between any casino and their homes, but not residents of Anne Arundel County. Worse, Leopold has not personally come out to the neighborhoods around Arundel Mills mall to address concerns of those of us who will be affected; instead, he’s spent his time lining up unions and other special interests for support. He has even devised a plan to funnel local-9impact grants intended to mitigate impacts from the proposed casino to other areas of the county.

As a result, county residents have been left to fight two massive companies on our own in an effort simply to get this casino placed at a more suitable location — away from residential areas. It will be a truly sad state of affairs if the will of tens of thousands of residents is ignored, and a place they take their children to shop and play is allowed to become home to one of the largest casinos in the nation. We can only hope that the Anne Arundel County Council will stop this miscarriage of the will of the voter.


By washingtonpost.com editors  | December 4, 2009; 7:33 PM ET
Categories:  Maryland, slots  
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Comments

Once again we see that NOBODY wants a casino anywhere near them. It is obvious to anyone not collecting a cut from casino interests that this is BAD for everyone involved. Think back to the referendum campaign. We were told that there would be robust bidding for licenses, a clean process, and that local opposition would be respected. Has any of that happened? The pie-in-the-sky revenue estimates are going to be the next lie to be exposed.


And yesterday WV approved table games at Charles Town. Let's face it--gambling in Maryland is just not going to work. NOW is the time to find legitimate solutions to our problems. End the failed slots experiment now.

Posted by: WoodrowRoosevelt | December 6, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Put the casino in "Sharptown."

That is the place I hear advertised on tlevision.

Posted by: gary4books | December 6, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

For the record, I'm opposed to slots anywhere in Maryland, including Laurel Park Race Track which is less than 2 miles from my home in Maryland City. I truly hope that Councilman Jamie Benoit and the others vote down the needed zoning change. And I have a lot of sympathy for the homeowners around the Mall, but I find it a little hypocritcal that they were all for slots as long as they were going to be in MY backyard (Laurel Park) and not theirs (Arundel Mills). Maybe if they had read the referendum ballot more closely they would have seen that it authorized slots in Anne Arundel County within 2 miles of Route 295. Laurel Park does fall within that zone, but unfortunately so does Arundel Mills. The ballot also stated that this was to fund education, not to prop up the horse racing industry. And of course what right-minded Maryland parent or grandparent wouldn't want as much money as possible for new schools, teacher salaries, books, etc. for their children and grandchildren? It's interesting to note, too, that now that the final vote on the zoneig is coming down to the wire, the pro-slots forces are pushing the emotionally charged issues of revenue for Anne Arundel County, and, the big one, JOBS. These are important issues anytime, but I'm in agreement with Mr. Roosevelt above - we need to find solutions to our budget shortfall problems that DO NOT include gambling as a component. No more new scratch-offs, no more Keno, no more Pick 3 or 4, and no Power Ball. If we want better services from our local and State governments, we should be prepared to pay for them with higher taxes and not depend on the gambling urges of the populace to fill the County or State coffers.

Posted by: dstreet208 | December 7, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I agree with many things that are being said here. I believe Marylanders voted for slots because it was a vote for education. The advertising that was being run heavily before the election essentially made you feel like you were voting AGAINST schools, teachers, and children if you voted against the referendum.

It worked, I voted for it, as I come from a family of educators. However, I never dreamed that a casino would be placed AT THE SCHOOL! Arundel Mills Mall is a family friendly destination, with a Medieval Times, Children's Place, Lego Store and more. It is also home to an Anne Arundel Community College Facility, and a Church meets on site. It is not an appropriate location for a casino.

... and I call it a casino, because that is exactly what it will be. It is not a slots parlor. They are not talking about just your traditional slot machines. The plan is to populate these facilities with electronic tables games. They will have Blackjack, they will have Poker, and you will be able to sit down at a table just like you would in Vegas. Marylanders voted for Slots, and they are getting table games, under the disguise of "Video Lottery Terminals".

I agree that this entire endeavor seems doomed for failure, and Maryland should find real ways to solve its economic woes. However if the legislation has passed, and this must go on, I think the only logical thing to do is to co-locate these casinos with the racetracks, as most Marylanders believed they would be when they voted for them.

Posted by: PVanderVossen | December 7, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

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