The wrong place for slots
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.
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