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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yes and No On Slots

- A pollster who favors the slots referendum in Maryland says that support for the measure is unchanged from August - 58% in favor, and 38% opposed.

Yang says that the intensity of support has picked up in the Baltimore area, where a pro-slots television ad has been airing. He notes that a "significant proportion" of support remains "soft," however, meaning people could still change their minds. [Washington Post]
The Baltimore Sun is getting flak for their editorial endorsement of slots over the weekend. The paper had opposed the games in the past, but now, citing "extraordinary times," it wrote:
Without new revenue, Marylanders face truly unacceptable choices. Public education and health care for the disadvantaged represent the majority of state spending and therefore cannot be held harmless in this cash-strapped environment. Both will soon suffer as budget cuts grow deeper and deeper. The prospect of higher taxes is just as ruinous an alternative if in raising taxes the government winds up dampening prospects for economic recovery.
Claiming that the Sun had written 75 anti-slots editorials in the past 10 years, a spokesperson for Marylanders United to Stop Slots said: "(I)t appears the editorial decisions are being made by corporate suits in Illinois, the Tribune Company, and not by the independent editorial board here in Maryland."

The Washington Post came out against the referendum.
One-sixth of slots revenue would sweeten race purses, an unnecessary subsidy that would mostly benefit out-of-state owners and Maryland's wealthiest breeders. Why should the state spend its dwindling dollars to bolster wealthy breeders rather than, say, Chesapeake Bay watermen?

Maryland had the good sense to rid itself of the machines 40 years ago, and voters should continue to resist the glow of slot machines and the false promise of pain-free revenue they represent.


Anonymous said...

I can't agree more with having no slots. I realize that it would add revenue to something that is always on the brink of failing. But I just hate the idea of associating slots to horse racing.

I truly liked the idea of other sport betting (football). It makes sense, it would actually make it _more_ acceptable to bet on horses for those who, for some reason, think it is a sport of disparity, clinging to the ticket at an OTB wondering if he'll be able to pay the rent.

Slots are _an_ answer, but not _the_ answer. It's an easy way out and they need to look at better solutions to make the 'Sport of Kings' truly represent it's name.

Shrinking the schedule, not charging admission, shrinking prize monies, cheaper/easier access to pp's... tons of things that can be considered for the short-term over slots.

Steve Zorn said...

The Washington Post editorial affirms the common myth that purses go to "wealthy owners." In fact, at tracks like Laurel and Pimlico, a pretty big share of purses go to owners and trainers who are struggling just to break even. One wishes the folks in favor of the referendum had made more out of the very large multiplier effect that racing -- a labor-intensive industry -- has on the local economy.

Anonymous said...

Ten years from now the rush to artificial surfaces will be looked back at in disbelief.

Racing will be back on dirt full time once the negative effects of inhaling plastic and rubber by both human and equine athletes begin to show up in the court system.

A trial lawyers dream.

Theodore L. Grevelis said...

Delaware - Slots; Pennsylvania - Slots; West Virginia - Slots; New Jersey - Slots (casinos subsidize purses to repvent VLTs at the track); New York - Slots.

Maryland racing needs slots to be competitive. The monies earned by slot machines are staggering. If only $10,000,000 are raised by slots some $1.6 million dollars will go back into purses and, as Steve rightly pointed out, help owners and trainers at all levels at Maryland Racing.

While many of anon's points are valid (and some absolutely necessary), none of them can generate the kind of dollars that slots can and some - shrinking purse money - are downright detrimental.

Sports betting will not happen anywhere but Delaware (they are grandfathered in along with Nevada although they don't have sports betting at the moment). The NFL will not allow it. The comissioner has gone on record that the NFL is not coming to LV as long as there is betting on the product. Do you really think that they would allow the Ravens to play in Baltimore if it were somehow legalized? That one is a non-starter.

Add into the list above: Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia, Florida, Indiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Iowa, Arkansas, Louisiana and Kentucky (approved but not yet acted upon) and horse racing is now widely associated with slots. That horse has left the barn (pardon the pun).

Michael said...

Ted G, I don't think slots have been approved in Ky. They're still not allowed in the state constitution as far as I know.

Also, I got robo-called on this Md. issue today, which is interesteing because I don't live in the state anymore...I should blog about that...