gaming atlantic blog

a casino gaming blog

Archive: Welcome! Some Thoughts on Maryland’s slots referendum

Posted by jkarmel on May 27, 2010

[Note: This is archived from the original GA blog, first posted on October 28, 2008]

Welcome to the new Gaming Atlantic blog!  This blog exists to track the American east coast’s casino industry, with a special emphasis on mid-Atlantic casinos and racinos. Check in frequently to read gaming news and analysis. Feel free to comment on postings and engage in discussions to come on a variety of topics relevant to gaming, including:

  • politics of gaming
  • gaming finance/investment
  • individual casinos
  • gaming companies
  • gaming community impact
  • gaming regulation
  • compulsive gambling

On to Maryland: I’ve lived in the state for 11 years and legalized gaming has been an issue for that entire time.  In fact, discussions over bringing slot machines to the free state go back 14 years or so, in response to moves by Delaware & West Virginia in the 1990s.  So, finally, on November 4 we’ll know whether the state will have legal gaming.   The referendum will authorize an amendment to the state’s constitution to allow 15,000 Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) at five different locations (Cecil County, Baltimore, Laurel, Ocean City and Rocky Gap State Park).  According to a recent Washington Post poll, Marylanders favor the proposal by 62 to 36%, a substantial margin.  Yet, polling on the referendum has been sparse of late, and a September poll from Gonzalez Research & Marketing showed a much closer margin: 49% for VLTs, 43% against VLTs.

So, should gaming advocates rest comfortably or not in these final days of the campaign?  Probably they should not, despite cause for optimism of late.  The lousy economic and budgetary situation in Maryland has probably helped build support for the amendment over the past month.  As well, the commercials flooding the airwaves from the pro-slots group For Maryland, For Our Future have likely increased support for the amendment.  However, local media gives lots of attention to gaming opponents and they will inevitably ratchet up their rhetoric over the next week, and possibly air some commercials with their remaining resources.

I’ll have more on the Maryland situation soon, on the referendum & its aftermath.  The big question of the moment is: will the 67% tax rate prove too high to attract desirable operators, even if the referendum passes on 11/4?

There are lots of other issues, topics and questions to address regardless of whether the referendum passes or fails. In the meantime, I would love to hear more from everybody on the MD referendum as election day nears- what do you think?

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