Well Maryland, You Asked For It

The People’s Republic of Maryland decided that it would like to have slot machines to increase revenue to the state. Former Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich introduced the idea but the Democratically controlled legislature failed to approve slot machines saying that gambling was no way to balance budgets. Some were opposed to gambling in general so each time the measure was introduced, it failed.

The state operates a number of lottery games but somehow slots were bad.

Once Martin O’Malley defeated Ehrlich and a Democrat was back in control the idea of slots was not such a bad one. Even O’Malley, who opposed slots when Ehrlich was governor, liked the idea and touted slots as a needed venture.

The Democrats in the legislature decided that they did not want to be on record as voting for slots so instead of legislating them they put the matter before the people in the form of a referendum. The people were not allowed to vote via referendum on the issue of taxes, which Democrats raised to historic levels, but the issue of slots was a different story.

At the time I commented that putting the matter to referendum was insane because the measure would become part of the state Constitution. The people passed the measure and the state Constitution had slots as part of it. I did not like this idea because the slot parlors would have to be in the locations spelled out in the Constitution and any change would have to go to referendum. If the legislature would have enacted slots via the legislative process then any changes could be made the same way.

There have been issues with the process and so far only two slots locations have opened (five were authorized).

Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos has decided that he would like to buy the Rosecroft racetrack which is not operating and is going through bankruptcy. He would like to open it and put slots there.

There are a few problems that need to be addressed. Angelos is the owner of a Major League Baseball Team and Major League rules say that team owners cannot own gambling entities. Since Angelos is an attorney and runs one of the major law firms here I am sure he has that angle taken care of.

The real problem is that Rosecroft racetrack is NOT on the list of authorized locations for slots. This means, as I pointed out when this was first discussed, the change must be done via referendum. The next time that can take place is November of 2012. Angelos wants to have things taken care of by December of 2012.

In Annapolis this morning, Senate President Mike Miller told WBAL News that the Angelos offer is”a win-win” for Maryland racing. However, he is not sure if lawmakers would agree to let Rosecroft have a slots license. Miller also points out that any license for Rosecroft or any other slots parlor would have to be approved in a referendum vote, and the earliest that could take place is November, 2012. [via the linked article]

Will Angelos take the chance and buy the racetrack when voters might reject the placement of slots there? If the measure is rejected he will be stuck with a racetrack that went bankrupt because it did not attract gamblers. Slots were originally discussed to beef up the ailing horse race industry and they might help Rosecroft greatly.

But Angelos would have to buy the place now and hope that voters allow Rosecroft to have slot machines and that depends on the legislature putting the matter on the ballot.

If the legislature had done this through the legislative process then they could use that very process, right now, to add Rosecroft and allow Angelos piece of mind.

This kind of nonsense from cowards in elected office stymies growth and hinders development.

And I called this from day one.

As an aside, the first slots parlor to open is about five miles from my house but I refuse to play slots in Maryland so I have not gambled there. Gambling was bad when a Republican wanted it so it must still be bad even though a Democrat decided it was A-OK. I have been there to eat and the food is good. I recommend it if you get the chance.

I rarely play slot machines but when I do Delaware gets my business.

Thanks to a bunch of cowards in the Maryland General Assembly whose chickens have come home to roost.

Cave Canem!
Never surrender, never submit.
Big Dog

Gunline

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