- The Washington Times - Friday, December 23, 2005

CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — Two state delegates from Western Maryland say slot machines in Allegany County make sense.

Delegate George C. Edwards, Garrett County Republican, and Delegate Kevin Kelly, Allegany County Democrat, said at two recent public meetings that Maryland is losing $800 million annually in potential tax revenues because residents are driving to neighboring West Virginia and Delaware to play slots, according to the Cumberland Times-News.

Two Allegany County sites have been named as possible slots locations in recent years: a proposed horse-racing track near Little Orleans and the Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort near Cumberland.

Mr. Kelly said at a pre-legislative breakfast Wednesday that large numbers of Marylanders are gambling at Charles Town Races & Slots in West Virginia.

“If you want to go and see all your neighbors, drive over to Charles Town,” he said. “You’ll see all the Maryland plates over there.”

Mr. Edwards, the House minority leader, said Maryland is nearly surrounded by slot states.

“My position is, whether you like it or I like it, people play slots,” he said. “They go to West Virginia. They go to Delaware.”

He also said Maryland residents soon will be driving to Pennsylvania, where slots recently were approved.

State lawmakers will return to Annapolis Jan. 11 for the 2006 General Assembly. The Democratic-controlled assembly has defeated slot legislation by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, for three straight years.

Cumberland resident Kimi-Scott McGreevy said at a forum Dec. 17 that the area’s legislators should assess whether the community wants slots.

She also said a slots bill should give local jurisdictions enough money to address increased bankruptcies, domestic abuse and other social ills linked to gambling.

“We have a high poverty population that would just exacerbate the problem we’re already struggling with,” she said.

Mr. Edwards said every slots bill introduced in the General Assembly has included money to help local governments address such concerns.

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