Sunday, November 02, 2008

Maryland Slots Referendum

I've been promising that I'd put up some resources about the slots referendum, so here they finally are. The Advocacy Resource Team from the Pen-Del Conference of the UMC prepared this message :
On November 4th, Marylanders will vote on Question 2, a referendum to amend the stated constitution to allow slot machine gambling. If it is passed, 15,000 slot machines are slated for venues in Anne Arundel County, Cecil County, Worcester County, Rocky Gap State Park in Allegheny County, and Baltimore City.

The United Methodist Church opposes gambling, stating:
"Gambling, as a means of acquiring material gain by chance and at the neighbor's expense, is a menace to personal character and social morality... Organized and commercial gambling is a threat to business, breeds crime and poverty, and is destructive to the interests of good government... It serves as a 'regressive tax' on those with lower income. In summary, gambling is bad economics gambling is bad public policy; and gambling does not improve the quality of life." (2004 Book of Resolutions, "Gambling" #203).

At this year's Annual Conference in June, the Peninsula-Delaware Conference approved a resolution opposing this referendum.
I also found an interesting editorial arguing against slots, and also an article that talks about estimates that both sides are making about potential revenue from slots. I know that this is a very complex issue, but I am convinced that slots are not a good solution to our economic problems in this state. Slots tend to increase crime, poverty and addiction in the surrounding community; this could likely end up costing tax payers enough to make the whole thing not worth it. Plus, the effects of problem gambling would be devastating to some families. Even if people want to make the argument that the financial and emotional consequences are the fault of the problem gamblers, should children and spouses have to shoulder the burden?

This is not a quick fix -- all of the financial estimates are just that, estimates. If this amendment passes, we will still have to wait for zoning fights (for all people say slots are good for communities, it seems no one really wants them in their backyard), construction, and start-up before the money starts coming in for schools and such. I don't claim to have all the answers, but I do think there has to be a better way to fund our schools.

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