Monday, November 3, 2008

Marylanders: Vote NO on Slots

Voters in Maryland will doubtless be handing Barack Obama ten electoral votes tomorrow. While I do urge anyone reading this in VA, PA, or any other swing state to vote Obama, that argument has been beat to hell by greater minds than mine. I'd like to use this space to encourage Maryland voters to reject Question 2 on the ballot, a measure that would allow slot machines at racetracks around the state.

The state is running a pretty huge deficit right now: $430 million. Cuts will have to be made from the budget or taxes will have to be raised. No one wants those things to happen, but it's a reality. Slots are being trumpeted as the cure-all for Maryland's budget woes. They will single-handedly fill the budget gap with $600 million in new revenues, supporters say.

Well, that's garbage. The numbers for revenue are based on having current MD gamblers who travel to PA, WV, and DE gamble MORE in their own state, and for a large number of new gamblers to start the nasty habit. Also, the $600 million number was pondered before our current economic downturn, and that number will be much lower, just from people having less money to spend on entertainment, which gambling is supposed to be.

"We'll still bring in a lot of revenue," you say? Well, that's true, but where will it come from? MD will not draw out-of-state gamblers in any significant numbers. Thirty-seven states have slots approved in one form or another, including the aforementioned neighbors. So the people putting dollars into those machines in MD will be MD residents. So, it's a tax on our own people. Fine. But it just so happens that the demographic of slot-users are disproportionately low- and moderate-income residents. So, it's a tax on our own poor people. Am I missing something here? How is that helping our state's economy?

The revenue gained from gambling will be at least partially offset by the costs required to deal with public health and social issues such as gambling addiction, alcoholism, and broken up families. People living within ten miles of a casino are 90% more likely to have a pathological gambling problem than those who don't. So, we're gonna create a whole bunch of addicts so we can save some money on property taxes? I don't like it. Why not just have crack-dispensers that we can tax the hell out of? We'd be the richest state in the Union!

So, we're gonna make more people poor, and tax the hell out the current and future poor, and give people something to blow their money on instead of food, clothing, or savings? Where do I sign up?!

Oh yes, then there's the "save the horseracing industry" argument. That was once the main reason for supporting slots, after all. You know what? Screw the horse-racing industry. Fully 1/6 of the revenue from slots will go into the pockets of these already-wealthy breeders and owners who often aren't even from MD. Not to mention the fact that horse-racing is a cruel practice where the animals are forced to race with injuries and pumped with steroids, often resulting in early deaths. I say the horse-racing industry isn't worth saving.

Unfortunately, the support for this question has come from Democrats like Gov. Martin O'Malley, Baltimore's Mayor Sheila Dixon, and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. They seem to be taking the approach of holding their noses and closing their eyes while they push the "Yes" key on their no-paper-trail Diebold voting machines. It's understandable that our leaders are under enormous pressure to fix the state's economy, but I think they've lost sight of the sacrifices they'd be making for an unknown number of extra dollars. 


I did a poor job citing in here, but I assure you, everything I said in this article comes from one of these four sources:

1 comment:

Brian L. said...