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Maryland struggles to cash in on gambling
The exception appears to be Pennsylvania, which in 2006 opened the first of its 10 casinos and added table games in 2010. December 2011 revenue of $199 million was 13.9 percent higher than in December 2010.
“It’s a competition for those customers,” said Doug Offerman, an economic analyst for Fitch Ratings. “For a state like Maryland to have many of its border states offering gaming presents the possibility of lost revenue.”
Though the addition of gambling tables has had mixed results, Maryland lawmakers are set to take up the issue during the General Assembly session that began last week.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, has expressed a desire to wait until all five slots casinos are up and running before making a decision. The assembly also is slated this session to consider a sixth slots parlor, in Prince George’s County.
To institute table games, lawmakers would have to follow the same steps as they did for slots — passing a constitutional amendment and allowing voters to decide the question in the next statewide election.
“We need to continue our efforts to implement, in its entirety, our slots legislation,” said Donald C. Fry, chairman of the state commission in charge of vetting potential casino developers. “But the world has changed since 2008, and that makes it incumbent upon Maryland to look at that issue to remain competitive.”
The District has legalized online gambling and is working on legislation for rules and regulations. The New Jersey Legislature is attempting to pass a similar bill, then send it to Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who has indicated that he will sign it into law.
Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, told The Washington Times that the state is far from considering such a program, but he will monitor its progress elsewhere.
Mr. Fry said online games could bring additional revenue, but likely would not have the draw of casinos.
“With gaming facilities that have entertainment and things of that nature, you never get that experience with online gaming,” he said.
Maryland Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot, a Democrat, has called slots “the crack cocaine of gambling” and opposes the expansion of gambling as a revenue source.
“Let’s take care of what we have and understand how to manage it properly,” he said. “Gambling is an unstable source of revenue for states and municipalities, and we should avoid it whenever possible.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Hill joined The Washington Times in February 2011 as a Maryland political reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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