Sink riverboat gambling in Virginia
There's a movement afoot in the Old Dominion to bring in riverboat gambling to help rescue transportation finances.
Let's hope it springs a leak.
Norfolk City Councilman Paul Riddick thinks that bringing in water-borne gambling palaces would be a great way to boost the state's transportation budget, which is short upwards an estimated $100 billion to do all it needs to do over the next 15 years. He's pushing to have the idea taken up by the General Assembly, which will meet in less than two months.
It's the latest in a series of schemes to raise money without raising taxes. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's plan to generate revenue by privatizing ABC stores, however, has been on a bit of a bender and is seen as going nowhere.
Virginia can save itself a lot of grief if it avoids boosting gambling beyond the horse races. Look at Maryland, which held a constitutional referendum two years ago to allow slot machines.
Maryland's plan, which was backed by Gov. Martin O'Malley, might bring in money but it has also brought a lot of baggage. To quote Citybizlist Baltimore, "no single issue in memory in Maryland has engendered more lobbying money, public rallies, legislative hearings, arm twisting, bill printing, press reporting and hot air than slots gambling."
This is exactly what Virginia can expect if Riddick's idea brings floating gambling hells to the industrial Elizabeth River or the Chesapeake Bay. After the run up (or run down) to privatizing ABC, it's all Virginia needs.
My view is that people should do what they want with their money, but gambling is a sure-fire way to lose it. As The Virginian-Pilot notes, quoting finance magnate Warren Buffett, "gambling is a tax on ignorance."
What's more, one wonders where the market would be. West Virginia allows gambling and the once tony Greenbrier resort has recovered from sure demise by becoming a casino. Atlantic City isn't that far away. Maybe new gamblers would come up to Norfolk from the tobacco fields and swamps of Eastern North Carolina. And there's always a criminal element that pops up, like yard moles, when gambling is around.
In any event, riverboat gambling is a bad idea that comes with a lot of bad stuff. I hope it doesn't float.
| November 19, 2010; 1:10 PM ET
Categories: Baltimore, Chesapeake Bay, HotTopic, Local blog network, Maryland, Va. Politics, Virginia, crime, economy, media, recreation, slots, sports, taxes
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