Help me decide on Question 2 (Slots in MD)

I’m still undecided as far as slots go in Maryland. I haven’t really heard many arguments for or against. Can I get some good debate going to help me pick?

Can you provide some details or a link?

Don’t really need those - you can just examine your values system to decide this one.

Even if you see no moral problem with gambling, you still have to decide whether you want your state acting as an agent in the fleecing. That’s the bottom line - all that talk about slots players going to Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia is just a distraction from this basic issue.

I’m undecided as well. I honestly don’t care if people play slots or not. However, they are playing the education will get the money game and I don’t like that. If they really thought that they would give all of that extra money to the schools then I might go for it, but you know they’ll just take that money and do something else with it.

I just saw a commercial this morning advocating for them, they said 400 million goes to other states. Ok I’d like to keep that 400 million, but then 10-15 seconds later they said, Maryland schools will make 660 million from slots. Umm… where the hell did the other 260 million come from? It’s sure not going to be me playing them. I’m pretty sure we’re not going to get that from people coming in from other states.

After Googling Maryland slots, most of links on the first couple of pages lean towards no, and while none give good cites, the pro sites don’t either. I’m leaning more towards no.

A little less than half will actually go to education. See the following quote:

Presumably, there are people in Maryland who would like to play slots, but aren’t willing to drive or fly to another state to do so.

I don’t think the government should be trying to protect adults from their own chosen vices, be they gambling, drinking alcohol, smoking (though prohibiting smoking where the secondhand smoke would affect others I’m OK with), or whatever. The people who play these are presumably adults who can make their own decisions about how to spend their money, and it’s not exactly a secret that slot machines don’t pay out every time you put money in them.

I don’t think that’s really true. For example, I might be in favor of gambling, but I might not want a casino close to a school. Or I might want to let individual cities be able to decide whether or not they will allow casinos. Or I might want some funding to go to treatment for gambling addiction. The devil is always in the details.

I did see that 48% is supposed to go towards education. If you watch the video here, they state that 660 million will go directly back into education. That means they expect 1.3 billion dollars in extra gambling. Quite frankly I think they are talking out their asses and hoping for the best.

As I said I’m not against having slots, I’m more against the legislators trying to feed me horse shit about where the money will come from and where it will go. They’re having a hard enough time as is, they’re not going to give all of the extra money to education, they’ll do that and take it away from some other source leaving us with the same problems we’ve already got.

If the schools need more money, then they should fix the budget first to get the schools more money. Earmarking new revenues from slots for schools just means they can spend their existing income on other crap. I used to pull the same stunt on my parents in college… I’d spend all my part time job money on beer and weed, and then tell my parents that I needed rent money. If they had said no, I’d just have to stop buying beer and weed, but people are suckers for a seemingly good cause.

I’m not too familiar with the nuts and bolts of the measure – all the radio ads and NPR debates I’ve heard just talk about the money. I’ve been in communities where slots are everywhere, and it’s pretty annoying. Bars, quickie-marts, laundromats… slot machines will make money anywhere there’s a roof, so they tend to spread like a disease and make the town feel like an even chintzier Vegas. But at horse/dog tracks and in some of the tourist towns on the eastern shore? That seems like it’d be a good idea. I’m not sure what kind of restrictions the measure will place, or if it will still be up to counties and cities to make the final call.

I plan to vote against it. I don’t have any objections to gambling, but this plan reeks of fiscal and political double-talk. I suspect that it will be used as a vehicle to reward the friends of the Governor and the Maryland Democratic Party. Any money earmarked for education will just allow the state to cut education spending by a similar amount and spend it on something else.

I don’t like gambling, but any time a law enacted by bible thumpers who want to deny us our freedoms because they think they know what’s best for people they’ve even never met gets struck down, I smile a little bit.

Also, we’ve only had slots here in PA for a few years, and I have yet to notice the fall of civilization happen in my state, so it can’t be all bad.

I am a keen gambler. I have bet on horse racing for 40 years. I love the odd sports bet and enjoy playing poker. If I could have my way slot machines (poker machines here in Australia) would be banned. I think they are a social evil. They are the method of choice for most gambling addicts in pissing away their money and in Australia the revenue raised by the machines is in inverse proportion to the affluence of their locality.

I am a keen drinker. I have drunk alcohol for 15 years. I love the odd bottle of wine and enjoy drinking domestic microbrew. If I could have my way cheap, strong alcoholic beverages (Mad Dog, King Cobra, etc. here in the US) would be banned. I think they are a social evil. They are the drink of choice for most alcohol addicts in pissing away their money and in the US the revenue raised by the liquor stores is in inverse proportion to the affluence of their locality.

Modest proposals aside, even though I’m for returning civil liberties to the citizen, I’d vote against this because it sounds like the numbers are suspect. If politicians sell their ideas with lies, they need to be punished or they will keep doing it. Also, the ‘for the schools’ angle is BS, we heard the same thing in NC when the state lottery was approved. It resulted in no net gain as the lottery is offset by redirection of education funds from other sources. What is the deal with the ‘7% to the horse industry’ thing? If these machines are located at the tracks, then wouldn’t the increased traffic result in more horse betting, not less? Are there any studies showing a decrease in revenue to horse owners and breeders when slots are allowed at the track? If the horse industry is concerned about this, they should take it up with the venues. If the supermarket starts selling Tropicana, we don’t subsidize Minute Maid. Maybe we do, nothing would surprise me at this point.

Like several others here, I have no moral objections to gambling, but, as in the case of state-run lotteries, I’m against the government being involved in it. The government shouldn’t be in the business of lying to its people or encouraging the poorest and least educated to pay additional taxes in the false hope of hitting it big.

I’m against the sliminess of tying education funding to measures that most people would otherwise oppose. It’s another damn “Think of the children!” piece of bullshit. If education is a priority, than we should pay for it, and not with a source that can increase and decrease unpredictably.

I’m convinced that the proponents of the measure are overstating the income and understating the costs. And once we let the nose of this camel into the tent, the next step is casinos and all the rest of that bullshit.

I’m voting no.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened in Missouri.

Pre-gambling. Education needs a billion dollars. State legislature appropriates a billion dollars.

Post-gambling. Education needs a billion dollars. Gambling brings in $150 million. State legislature appropriates $850 million.

Net effect on education = zero, except for a significant number of voters who vote against local school taxes because “what happened to all the money that was supposed to come in from gambling?”

So vote anyway you want, just don’t kid yourself that education will benefit from it.

NPR was running a piece all weekend, and at one point they interviewed some guy who had something to do with the horse racing industry. Apparently the bill will allocate some money from slots for horse racing – I wasn’t entirely sure if that was just a chunk of the pie from statewide slot revenues, or only slots that are physically at racetracks. But that’s sorta beside the point, because they guy was making this argument:

Cash infusion from slots -> bigger purses -> faster horses -> more spectators -> more revenue ->
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It was an argument that I found very annoying, because I couldn’t figure out why the slots were even involved. If the industry can make more profit by awarding bigger purses to winners and thereby attracting better horses and more spectators/gamblers, and if that’s a guaranteed way to make a better profit, then they shouldn’t need government funds to prop it up. And I also wondered if this guy planned to stop accepting the government funds from slots once the horse racing industry took off again.

Note: I heavily support horse racing. (I don’t live in Maryland, but Ohio here has a similar situation where slots would be very helpful in propping up racing)

I have no particular attachment or animus to horse racing, but I don’t see why this particular sport/industry deserves public support in this fashion, especially from a measure that will have significant downsides, such as increased crime. Yes, horses are beautiful, and there’s something romantic about horse racing, but what gives them the right to feed at the public trough [har!] on an equal footing with schools?

If horse racing is a business, it should succeed or fail on its own merits without public funding. If the people of Maryland aren’t interested enough in horse racing, let the industry leave for Delaware and West Virginia. And the fact that those two states have permitted slots is no argument for us to make the same bad decision. What did Mom say when we were kids? “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” No.

We don’t need to give special breaks and hand over vast sums of cash to special interests like the racing industry and casinos just because they’ve cynically wrapped themselves in the education mantle or because we think horses are pretty. Let’s get rational, people.

(And before anyone raises the issue of the public funding of Maryland’s new football and baseball stadiums, I was against them, too, for the same reasons.)

The horse industry in Maryland, including the breeding farms, supports thousands of employees. The Preakness gets a bigger crowd every year than the Super Bowl. Losing these things would have pretty far-reaching effects. It’s not as simple as your argument would have it.

What government subsidies did we give to the steel industry in the 1960s and 1970s when Bethlehem Steel was shutting its doors, and putting far more people out of work than the measly little horse industry?

There are lots of people in lots of industries that will be out of work or underemployed in the coming downturn. They can’t all be supported by the state. Why does the horse racing industry deserve this special treatment?