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County Execs Tout Gambling's Benefits to Economic Development, Education

County executives from Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties are advocating for a casino at National Harbor, adding table games and expanding casino hours around the state.

By Carl Straumsheim, Capital News Service

Using Saturday's University of Maryland Terrapins football game as a metaphor, county executives Rushern Baker III, Ike Leggett and Ken Ulman on Thursday framed the referendum on expanding gambling in Maryland as a conflict between economic development and out-of-state interests.

"Just like I want Maryland to beat West Virginia on Saturday in football, I want Maryland to beat back this out-of-state money in November," Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said.

If passed, the referendum, which appears as Question 7 on the ballot, would allow a casino to open at National Harbor in Prince George's County -- the sixth casino in the state. It would also enable existing casinos to stay open around the clock and offer table games like blackjack and roulette instead of just digital representations.

Ulman stressed the initiative's impact on local education budgets as a reason why Maryland voters should cast ballots in favor of gambling expansion in November.

"We know that there is a burden to continue to be able to find the revenues to invest in our children's education," Ulman said. "This is one way to enhance the Education Trust Fund and help us accomplish that goal. It's not the only way; it's one way."

As the bill was being debated in the General Assembly, Republicans accused Gov. Martin O'Malley of giving tax breaks to gambling companies, while raising taxes on Marylanders making more than $100,000. In Prince George's County, some religious leaders worry that a casino could bring increased crime to their neighborhoods.

Attempts to reach expanded gambling opponents Thursday were unsuccessful.

Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker III accused competing casinos in neighboring states of trying to distort the debate  by running political ads opposing the expansion in Maryland.

"Make no mistake: This is about Maryland versus West Virginia," Baker said. "People running ads against having a sixth site in Prince George's County and expanding table games are from West Virginia."

Baker also distanced himself from the idea that existing casinos in Maryland are opposing the expansion to protect their own bottom lines.

"We took care of Anne Arundel County -- made sure they're held harmless -- and other facilities. I think people are satisfied with the way the bill came out of the General Assembly," Baker said. "People in Maryland need to understand this is about protecting resources and dollars in the state."

Bill Hussein O'Stalin September 21, 2012 at 11:03 AM
So they feel it's better to have the gambling house because they want to take the economic opportunities away from West Virginia? Ok. Now let's see those same county executives compete with W. Va. on property taxes.
Michael B. Cron September 21, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Do me a favor Mr. Baker, Mr. Leggett and Mr. Ulman, don't ever mention and compare the University of Maryland College Park and its Football program which is an honest and worthy institution to the likes of gambling and casinos. When we as a football team battle West Virginia, it is in a stadium with two loyal and dedicated teams trying to win the game for their respective schools. It is something that is honest and steeped in tradition. Gambling on the other hand is an insidious vice that prays on the public at large. The only winners here are the casino owners and the special interest groups, but you all know that already. Your comments make me despise your attempts to ram gambling down our throats even more unsettling!
jag September 21, 2012 at 04:52 PM
If you don't want to gamble then don't gamble, but don't pretend like your definition of an "insidious vice" has any real meaning to the rest of us. You're the one who's attempting to "ram" your inane belief system down the rest of the state's throat. Want to outlaw smoking, drinking, and cursing while you're at it, your highness?
Emil Farkwarp September 21, 2012 at 07:16 PM
I'm calling you, Jag. All three "vices" you name ARE regulated as are prostitution, marijuana and gambling. Why are we only discussing expanding gambling when prostitution is a much better money maker? And what could possibly beat legally taxed weed for a revenue stream? Gambling is a sucker's bet. Construction jobs are, as always, temporary. The jobs in and related to the casino are overwhelmingly low-end low-skill services offering minimal benefits. Increased crime and social problems consume resources while medically-uninsured employees are cared for by the state with its newfound money. Sorry, schools! All in all a win for the businesses in gambling. and nobody else. Finally, is a self-tax any less of a tax? The outcry over increased number of folks subject to tax penalty under Obomneycare indicates that self-taxing IS a tax!
jnrentz1 September 21, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Will there be gambling in Montgomery County? If so, when and where? If not, why not?
Michael B. Cron September 22, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Dear Mr. “Jag", last I checked the state is trying to ram gambling down mine and many others throats! Question 7 is a looser just like most of the gamblers do (loose that is) when they patronize the casinos that are already open in this state. Personally I could not care less if you want to give your hard earned money to the casinos. Let me know when all of that windfall casino money starts trickling in to Annapolis and there is a big announcement that our schools have more than enough money to educate our children and that property taxes, gas taxes and sales tax are going to be reduced. Until then I will remain skeptical. As far as drinking, smoking and cursing are concerned; they are not the issue here.
Bill Hussein O'Stalin September 22, 2012 at 01:01 PM
That is one ignorant comment.
Richard Rice September 22, 2012 at 09:04 PM
We do not need gambling in Montgomery County! We have corruption and colusion enough without it.
Jeff Banagan September 23, 2012 at 02:17 AM
No there won't be any gambling in Montgomery County (MC). Fortunately, the county council voted to pout out all gambling options. A casino in MC is the last thing we need.
jag September 23, 2012 at 04:47 AM
You didn't even explain how the state is ramming gambling down your throat. I can't even begin to try to understand what you're rambling about. Are you trying to spell "lose"?
jnrentz1 September 23, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Richard Rice: What corruption and collusion does Montgomery County Have? What does that have to do with gambling? Our County Executive, Mr. Leggett has made a record of supporting gambling, why not have gambling here in Montgomery County along with the attendant jobs, and revenue?
jnrentz1 September 23, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Jeff Takahashi: Why is it fortunate that the Montgomery County Council, "voted to pout out all gambling options?" Why is a casino "last thing we need?" Gambling is in Maryland. Gambling will create jobs and generate revenue. Why not have gambling in Montgomery County for those reasons? Montgomery County has a population of around one million people, why should those Montgomery County residents wishing to gamble have to travel away from Montgomery County?
Michael B. Cron September 23, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Jag, if all you can do is point out a spelling glitch and thank you for that. I will try to be more careful so that you can understand more succinctly what I am rambling about. Annapolis and PG County are hell bent on passing gambling (because they think it is a cure all) to try and cover-up their poor management of our tax dollars over the years (including yours if you pay taxes). Nothing more, nothing less. Please, do not let my rambling keep you from financing our state government's poor fiscal management of our tax dollars through gambling.
jag September 23, 2012 at 03:31 PM
No one is ramming anything down your throat. Chill out, vote against it if you hate the idea of people being able to make their own choices, and move on with your life.

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