There’s a lot being said about gambling now that it’s present in Maryland and now that it’s on the ballot again. We should all remember the promises made about police, fire and schools benefitting financially from the slots, since the same tactic is being used again that those entities will be the winners.
I read a recent letter to the Editor of the Capital newspaper where the author tried to draw a relationship between Romney and the gambling industry, making the assumtion that Romney doesn't care about people. Interesting that the author of that letter wants to draw a connection between Romney (who had nothing to do with getting the gambling 'foot in the door' here) and our local government. It speaks volumes that on the same page as Pratt’s letter is an editorial criticizing O'Malley for not setting up treatment for gambling addiction, which was promised as part of the gambling bill. Sounds like O’Malley is the one who doesn’t care.
Anne Arundel County is in financial straits because of the bad economy, and the counties have been forced by our legislature to absorb a deficit for unfunded teacher’s pensions. Despite the fact that taxes and fees have been increased every year that O'Malley has been in office, his administration could not see fit to set aside the money for the teacher’s pensions. Sounds like O'Malley doesn't care about the teachers either.
FOR Maryland Jobs and Schools is promising "Good Jobs and Better Schools Without Raising One Nickel in Taxes." And yet even after the state has received gambling money, the Anne Arundel County Council and the Board of Education recently publicly fought over $5 million, pointing fingers at "whose money is it anyway?"
So where does all that gambling money go? As with the state’s other casinos, 48.5 percent of the Maryland Live! casino’s revenues — $15.7 million in August — goes to the state’s Education Trust Fund. This fund is used for public safety, health and environmental programs.
Health and environmental programs? That's news to me. I assumed it was to go directly to the schools for maybe teacher's salaries, books and infrastructure.
State budget analysts had estimated the plan would bring in $199 million annually for schools by fiscal 2019. The casino keeps 33 percent, or about $10.7 million, while the county gets 5.5 percent, or about $1.7 million. The Lottery gets 2 percent, while the rest will be disbursed for horse racing.
The passage of expanded gambling will open up the casinos for table games, 24-7 gambling and a lower tax liability for the casinos. For example: Maryland Live! in Hanover would pay 8 percent less tax to spend on promotional costs and capital improvements to offset added competition from a Prince George's casino.
The voters in Prince George's County must approve the casino there or this is all for naught.