THE QUESTIONS ABOUT QUESTION 7
In 50 days, Marylanders will be asked to vote on a referendum item called “Question 7.” It has three parts: it would allow another casino to be built (specifically in Prince Georges County), it would permit poker tables at all Maryland casinos, and it would increase the number of slot machines in the state.
Proponents say passage of this question would bring lots of jobs and much more tax revenue to Maryland. Of course that’s what gambling advocates always promise.
In 1977, the radio station I worked for sent me to Atlantic City to file reports about legalized gambling coming to the aging seaside resort the next year. The people of Atlantic City were excited. They were being told that the new casinos would save their down-at-the-heels town. They were told the casinos would bring with them lots of good-paying jobs and fill the struggling city’s coffers. Gambling was just the cure Atlantic City needed.
I returned to Atlantic City a couple of years later to do some follow-up reports.
It’s true that the casinos hired a lot of employees. The problem was that most of them were hired from places other than Atlantic City. And while the boardwalk itself grew a few new glitzy casinos, the rest of A.C. looked exactly as it did before gambling: dirty, run-down, and depressing. It also now featured much more street crime. In other words, just as casinos play their customers inside their establishments, they had played the voters of Atlantic City. Casinos won, the average resident lost.
I’m not trying to tell anybody how to vote on Question 7. Truth is, I’m agnostic about gambling. I personally don’t enjoy it, but I have no problem if you do. It’s your business, not mine.
All I want to caution is this: vote for or against Question 7 entirely on how you feel about casinos in your state. Don’t vote for them because the gaming interests are promising a pie-in-the-sky financial windfall. It’s a bluff.
Want proof? Take a trip a couple hundred miles up the coast to see for yourself.
Knowing a sucker bet when I see it is a Core Value.