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Del. Bromwell: Why I Support Question 7

Delegate Eric Bromwell explains his stance on Question 7.

Amid the millions of dollars worth of ads that have filled our television screens over the past six weeks, I believe the decision on whether to support Question 7 comes down to one basic truth: Making Maryland’s system of gaming competitive provides a new source of revenue for schools and other government services without raising taxes.

Over the past five years, since the Maryland General Assembly first approved putting slot machine casinos to the voters, our state has fallen behind our neighbors. We have slowly opened three of the five authorized casino sites, limiting those facilities only to slot machines, while our neighboring states have moved forward with permitting their casinos to also offer such table games as blackjack, poker and roulette.

Given that competitive disadvantage, it’s little wonder that Marylanders seeking a full casino experience are still flocking to out-of-state facilities – particularly the Charles Town casino in West Virginia. The respected Sage Policy Group released a report this week concluding that Marylanders have spent over $1 billion over the past decade in this West Virginia casino, and – if Question 7 fails – Marylanders are likely to spend more than $1 billion over the next decade there.

Those dollars now being spent in West Virginia, as well as at casinos in Pennsylvania and Delaware, can be recaptured and used to fund schools, police and other critical government services here in Maryland – but only if we approve Question 7.

State legislative analysts project this will be nearly $200 million a year just for public schools once Question 7 is completely implemented. That is real money for Maryland’s Education Trust Fund, on top of the $184 million that has already gone to the fund from gaming since casinos were legalized by voters in 2008.

Despite this relentless negative advertising campaign paid for by the owner of the West Virginia casino that keeps taking Marylanders’ dollars, the language in the gaming legislation is quite clear that this money is committed to education. Spending on public schools is legally required to go up in this state year after year – and Question 7 provides the revenue to pay for those spending increases without raising our taxes.

Separate from the revenue, the benefits of Question 7 can be seen in jobs and economic development, both here in the Baltimore area and across our state.  Permitting table games at our state’s existing casinos means the creation of about 1,600 new jobs at those five casinos – including 500 additional jobs just at the casino set to be built in Baltimore City – and these are jobs that pay roughly $55,000 a year in wages, benefits and tips, based on averages from other city casinos.

In Prince George’s County, which is desperately in need of significant new economic development projects, Question 7 would permit the development of a destination resort casino. Building the $800 million project would mean 2,000 new union construction jobs, and it’s estimated that, once in operation, the casino would create a total of 8,400 direct and indirect jobs. Given our nation’s economic challenges, we can’t afford to let job creation opportunities like this slip by.

Taken together, voter approval of Question 7 would enable Maryland to keep Marylanders here in our state when they choose to spend their entertainment dollars on gaming.  And by locating a world class casino just outside of D.C. and Northern Virginia, we position our state to aggressively attract dollars from the tens of millions of people who live, work and visit the area around our nation’s capital.

The negative ads we see over and over again are being funded entirely by one company that is seeking to protect its cash cow West Virginia casino. If Maryland legalizes table games at its existing and authorized casinos, and permits construction of a casino in Prince George’s County just outside of D.C., the market for that West Virginia casino from Maryland, D.C. and Northern Virginia is suddenly badly compromised.

The negative ad campaign would have Maryland voters believe that a vote against Question 7 is a vote against casino “special interests.”  In fact, a vote against Question 7 is really a vote FOR the special interests of one West Virginia casino operator.

It is for these reasons that I voted to put this issue on the ballot and why I will continue my support of Question 7.  In my opinion, a “yes” vote is a vote to make Maryland competitive with our neighbors, to create new revenues to pay for schools, and to create much-needed jobs.  I hope you will join me in voting to keep Maryland money and Maryland jobs in Maryland!

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PerryHallParent October 16, 2012 at 09:37 AM
While it's nice to want to believe that this money truly is going for schools, why then are we hearing that there is no funding for projects and that there are long waiting lists for repairs and enhancements for schools? Considering this as well as the fact that gambling can be a debilitating addiction, I would rather see these facilities not exist. If I can get a job at a casino paying $55K with full benefits, then I am most certainly in the wrong business. Perhaps if the public could see a total breakdown of all revenue and how it was applied for the schools, people would change their minds. All I see are ridiculous, poorly marketed ads that don't tell me much of anything.
Honeygo Hal October 16, 2012 at 12:11 PM
I'm not a huge fan of gambling, but the cat is out of the bag and neighboring states are filling up that bag with cash. That puts MD at a disadvantage. I say go for it. One area that concerns me is help for those that get caught up in the chase for a fortune via gambling. I see the notices on the advertising, so that is something good. There needs to be continued attention to this, using the revenue from gaming. Another point that is left muddy by the negative ads (and even the one with the Harrahs guy) is whether the Baltimore City casino will be built regardless of the vote on Question 7. Someone should clear that up.
Gomer Pyle October 16, 2012 at 12:58 PM
How much money has been contributed by the casino developers to your re-election funds? I wouldn't trust you considering your family's history of kick-backs and "no show" jobs given by contractors and developers. Also, if this is such a great deal for Maryland, why the need to provide such huge tax breaks to the casino developers and operators? There is plenty of money in it for "them" regardless of the unnecessary tax breaks. If they don't build it someone else will jump in and do it.
William Lutostanski Jr October 16, 2012 at 01:19 PM
A yes vote on question 7 would be a no brainer if it were as simple as just allowing table games. Our General Assembly got it wrong by not allowing this in the first place and now Maryland is behind our neighboring states. Question 7 should be voted down and our lawmakers should go back to work and do the right thing, approve table games without the tax breaks for these casinos.
Tim October 16, 2012 at 01:46 PM
What this man said. I completely approve of the concept, but not as currently implemented.
Honeygo Hal October 16, 2012 at 01:51 PM
I could be wrong, but my understanding of the "tax breaks" has to do with the ownership of the machines. The state currently owns them, but would allow the casino companies to acquire them - and the "tax breaks" are related to that. Please set the record straight if I missed something.
William Lutostanski Jr October 16, 2012 at 02:30 PM
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-casino-ads-20120906,0,1144073.story "The Department of Legislative Services estimates that the casino owners stand to reap a $525 million windfall if Question 7 passes." The bill also allows for the lottery commission to approve additional tax cuts. I believe casinos make enough money to afford their own slot machines without a tax break and Marylanders deserve a better crafted bill that will guarantee the money goes to education and does not allow for tax breaks for billionaires. A new bill should include: 1. The education trust fund can not be raided. 2. The amount spent on education from the general fund can not be reduced. 3. The current casino tax rate remains the same. 4. Approve table games and sports betting, to compete with Delaware. 5. 6th casino approval contingent on the Downtown casino being built first and that revenue from all the other casinos does not drop below 60% of where it is now.
Honeygo Hal October 16, 2012 at 02:55 PM
I'm pretty sure the ownership issue was a state requirement when they agreed to allow the casinos - the state had to own all of the machines. Perhaps with 5 casinos the cost was too much?
John Dingedahl October 16, 2012 at 06:28 PM
The whole gambling issue is a joke. This state can not do anything right. Why in this world did the legislature combine table games with the sixth casino? They should have been two seperate issues. Next, we do not have all five of the already approved sites up and running and now we want to add a sixth site. Makes no sense. The three sites that are in operation, only one is making any substantial money. Perryville wants to return 500 machines, the one in OC is barely hanging on. Balto. City has not even got a plan approved, the first one was rejected.. I could go on and on. Don't forget the 'mistake by the lake' in Allegany County.
William Lutostanski Jr October 16, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Lets not forget the fuzzy math used for projections. Perryville was projected to provide $ 191 million annually, the real number is $85 million annually. So when the Delegate projects $200 million in increased revenue that can be cut in half. Then factor in the decreased tax rate and you have a bad bill. I say vote no, hold lawmakers accountable, and send them back to work to craft a better bill for Maryland.
Chip Evans October 16, 2012 at 11:37 PM
You are not reading between the lines. Our delegates can do whatever they want with the money. (and they will) Not enough will make it through the sieve to the school system. The politicians will pocket a great deal of this $$$$. Better read the fine print.
Grace B. October 17, 2012 at 08:15 PM
If gambling was so important to the welfare of Maryland, why was Governor Ehrlich blocked at every turn, during his term in office. O'Malley was against it back then, also. For that reason alone, I won't vote for Q7. Secondly, I don't believe the schools will receive any benefit. I thought that was the purpose of the lottery money. Give Maryland extra money and it will disappear....and they will ask for more. And, finally, will my tax hike be reduced if Q7 is voted into law? I very much doubt it.
Matt October 18, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Exactly! It's a shame that the sheeple of this god awful cesspool of a state will not take any of that into consideration.
Tim October 18, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Grace: Completely correct. Gambling in Maryland was originally Ehrlich's initiative...and he was blocked time and again by the Democratic legislature. They were clearly saving it for their own boy.
Tim October 18, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Although Matt, if you really think our state is 'a cesspool' I strongly suggest you move.
Matt October 18, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Tim- I would LOVE to move. However, if a house doesn't sell, I can't leave.
Tim October 18, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Sounds like a pricing issue. Homes in this area move just fine - unless you made the obvious mistake of buying a home in the 2005-2008 range and are now underwater. Good luck with selling your home, either way.
kevin October 21, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Fact is O'Malley put table games in bill to get it passed. That is the ONLY money Maryland will gain. Why can't legislators come clean? Talk to them in private they all tell you, but we need table games ,that is only reason.Liars ,All they Have to do is approve table games in January themselves in existing casinos. Perryville is returning 500 slots because Arundel Mills. No new jobs are going to be created building casinos ,fact is the Prince Georges shovels won't hit ground until 2015 at earliest.PG has to approve it. Only benificary are politicians and Gov Pac and of course Casino operators tax cuts. WV,Penn,Del don't care about new casinos it's table games.If we had a REAL govenor he would pass that by an executive order. Vote NO !

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