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This site has devoted a lot of time and attention (and for very good reason) to state referendums like the gay marriage ban in California and anti abortion referendum in South Dakota. But today I’d like to ask fellow Kossacks to spend a little time on this last day before the election to also consider Question 2 on the Maryland state ballot to legalize slot machines --- and to ask all Marylanders to vote "No" to this question!!!

Text of Question 2 here:  http://www.elections.state.md.us/...

To tell you the truth, I am actually a little embarrassed that it is the Democrats in Maryland, including Governor O’Malley, who have pushed this imitative. From several perspectives, it is extremely bad policy, including the major issue that gambling functions as a regressive tax, taking money away from mostly poor and middle income people. Giving out mixed messages much?

Bizzarely, this particular referendum is also to create an actual amendment to the state constitution to legalize slot machines. Such an amendment is unprecedented. I thought our state constitution was sort of a special document that among many things protects our Right to Free Speech (article 10) and our Right to Petition Grievances (article 13). What in he&% are we doing amending such an important document in favor of a creepy revenue raising scheme that favors the gambling industry?!

Proponents of course argue in favor of Question 2 because they say Maryland flat out needs the money. The state budget, like so many other states, has a major deficit and schools are suffering. Money from the slots would bring in millions of badly needed dollars into the state for its education system.

But revenue estimated to be generated by slot machines in Maryland has been greatly overestimated. A recent Washington Post editorial also urging Marylanders to vote "No" on question 2 stated that:

Slots, they promise, will plug Maryland's $430 million budget gap, revive the faltering horse-racing industry and inject needed cash into schools. Marylanders shouldn't fall for this neon mirage. Slots will pump money into the pockets of out-of-state racehorse owners and casino operators; only a fraction of the revenue will trickle to schools.

Advocates claim that slots will raise $600 million, half of which will go to schools. The figures are not credible. The $600 million estimate comes from the [Maryland Department of Legislative Services] ... Putting aside concerns about the report's objectivity -- Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration supports the referendum -- the projection was made before the economy worsened. Casinos in neighboring states have seen a drop in revenue of 15 to 20 percent in the past year. Mr. Perez admits that he would revise his initial estimate downward, to about $500 million. A recent study by [researchers with the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis & Research at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County] warns that slots revenue could even be lower.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

In addition to not raising promised revenue, Question 2 will of course cost our state millions on the other end through increased social problems such as gambling addiction, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, and broken families. Just how much is unfortunately unknown. The US government has never done proper studies about the actual effects of gambling on Americans’ health and well-being. In 2007, the House of Representatives introduced a bill that would give the National Institutes of Health $20 million for research on gambling addiction, but that bill has since gone nowhere. We have been at the mercy of the gambling industry, which funds much of the research through organizations such as The National Center for Responsible Gambling (‘snort!’). Results of independent studies about slot machines and gambling are disturbing, including four studies that show the damage that is done when casinos are nearby. According to these studies, Marylanders can look forward to these statistics: (1) A casino within 10 miles of home is associated with a 90% increase in the odds of being a pathological or problem gambler. (2) For every increase of one standard deviation in neighborhood disadvantage the odds of being a pathological or problem gambler increase by 69%. (3) For every additional form of legal gambling in his or her state, the respondent’s odds of having gambled in the past year increase by 17%. Closer Casinos Bring Higher Addictions. Other studies equivocate slot machines with the pathological effects of crack cocaine Machines and Rapid Onset of Addiction and show links between alcohol and gambling addiction. Alcohol and Gambling Addictions Linked

For some traditionalists in Maryland, the final argument for Question 2 is that it will help to save the beloved Preakness and the horse racing industry. As far as I am concerned, this is an industry hardly worth saving, given the long record of grotesque animal abuse in this industry. And this is coming from me, whose grandparents raised race horses and who followed horse racing for many years before I finally realized out how cruel it all was. We have had horses break down on national TV and later be euthanized in the past two Triple Crown series (Barbaro and Eight Belles). The winner of the Kentucky Derby this year (Big Brown) became part of a major scandal about steroid use in racing.  Every day all over our country race horses are pumped up to the hilt on steroids and pain medication and race with broken legs and fractured hips. Even in states like Maryland who have banned steroid use at the track, the penalties for breaking the bans are laughable and have no impact on any other performance enhancing drugs pumped into these poor animals away from the track.

It is ironic that we have recently learned that our entire economy has been run like a Saturday night poker game at the Bada Bing Club. For a whole host of reasons we should know that gambling is not the solution to our economic woes. I feel certain that Marylanders are resourceful enough to figure out how to raise needed funds for our schools and close our budget gap in other less-socially destructive ways.

VOTE NO to Question 2 in Maryland!

Originally posted to Mr Rick on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 10:54 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  vote no to slots, yes to online poker! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran, f furney, triv33, Frances Nicole

    To Undecided Voters: Tell them to watch the debates. If after that, they want to vote for McCain, THEN gently but firmly correct them. -Kos Diarist Stunzeed-

    by mobilio316 on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 10:55:52 AM PST

  •  Kind of tactless (4+ / 0-)

    To put PLEASE REC in the title. I mean, all of us want our diaries to be recommended, but a little humility goes a long way, at least in this Kossack's book.

    Idea:No Blood 4 Oil Action:I use Biodiesel site blog

    by KumarP on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 10:58:11 AM PST

  •  I'm not for slobs! (0+ / 0-)

    John McCain -- Putting the "ick" back in Maverick!!!!

    by fhamme on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:01:45 AM PST

  •  I'm with you. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Rick, xsonogall, fhamme

    used to be, Ehrlich was pro, O'Malley was anti. wtf happened there?

    slots are bullshit.

  •  I am a Marylander (7+ / 0-)

    and am voting no on slots.

    January 20 2009 cannot come soon enough.

    by Crisis Corps Volunteer on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:02:49 AM PST

  •  I'm a Maryland voter. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon

    I haven't made up my mind on this issue--frankly, I don't have strong feelings one way or the other. I am leaning to voting for it just to keep Marylanders from traveling to West Virginia, Delaware and, now, Pennsylvania to play slots, and to keep that revenue at home.

    •  data shows (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zenbowl

      that the costs are higher than the revenues in most cases. Just sayin'.

      Hockey Moms for Obama!

      by stitchmd on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:05:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I haven't decided either (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dennisl, vcthree

      The talking point that it amounts to a regressive tax on the poor seems too nanny-state-ish to me.  Why should the state decide how people spend their money?

      That said, it also seems kind of gimmicky, as a way to raise revenue.  It's like pretending that it's free money.

      •  Kensington resident here ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peregrina, Mr Rick

        ... and my wife and I are both voting "No" as emphatically as we can.  The slots proponents are saying that the revenue will be used to fund schools across the state, to which we reply that education should be a priority and thus should be funded out of state revenues gathered via the tried and true tax system.  I realize that it may sound hopelessly idealistic and retro, but I long for the day that important stuff is fully funded out of state budgets and frills like football stadiums have to hold bake sales or rely on slots for their funding.  Let's get our priorities straight, Maryland!

    •  the revenue will not stay in Maryland (0+ / 0-)

      that's the problem - the gambling industry will see to that

  •  I'm a MDer also, and voting against the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Rick

    telecommunications tax

    John McCain -- Putting the "ick" back in Maverick!!!!

    by fhamme on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:05:09 AM PST

  •  I agree 100%, Slots are just taxes on poor people (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Rick
    •  Ummm, no they aren't (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dennisl, triv33, GoldnI

      I mean will poor people go to jail if they don't pay slots?

      Let's be serious here.

      They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin

      by Gangster Octopus on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:10:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's a very silly comment (0+ / 0-)

        when you look at the facts.  Nobody is forcing poor people to go to the slots but it because they are poor that they are goind.  Often they are not educated enough to realize that their chances of winning aren't worth the risk and they'd be better off keeping their money.

        Having said all of that I've been agonizing over this issue and even asked my daughter who attends a public school in Prince George's County where we live.  I know for sure that the very people who are going to be harmed by the slots already spend their money on lotto and travel to Pennsylvania and Delaware to waste their money on slots.  Additionally, there has to be something to say about the entertainment value of slots though that doesn't trump the harm caused.

        I's a matter of asking whether they will just spend their money in PA and DE anyway.  I think so.  Given this, I will vote yes.  It wasn't easy coming to this conclusion.

        •  No What is Silly is Being Condescending to Poor (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          txcronopio

          I am sorry, but to call it a tax is simply not the case.  It makes it out that the poor are folks who cannot control themselves and have to be protected from themselves.  It is nonsense.  Slot machines are not taxes because they are NOT TAXES.  No one has to play the slots and to assume that it should be stopped to protect the poor from themselves is ridiculous.  What other "bad decisions" do we need to protect the "weak-minded" poor folks from? Fatty fast food?

          I find it offensive, actually.

          They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin

          by Gangster Octopus on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:21:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Thank goodness (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dennisl, ausoleil, txcronopio

          Poor folks have middle and upper class folks with liberal guilt to be their moral compass and shepherd.

          Shit like this is what got us 8 years of Reagan and Dubya.  No thanks.

        •  did you see this part in my diary (0+ / 0-)

          about what happens when slots ARE CLOSER TO HOME?

          "Results of independent studies about slot machines and gambling are disturbing, including four studies that show the damage that is done when casinos are nearby. According to these studies, Marylanders can look forward to these statistics: (1) A casino within 10 miles of home is associated with a 90% increase in the odds of being a pathological or problem gambler. (2) For every increase of one standard deviation in neighborhood disadvantage the odds of being a pathological or problem gambler increase by 69%. (3) For every additional form of legal gambling in his or her state, the respondent’s odds of having gambled in the past year increase by 17%. Closer Casinos Bring Higher Addictions."

    •  So is the lottery. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vcthree

      Yet, for some reason, there's no mainstream movement to abolish that. And the lottery has been used directly to fund government programs for quite a while now.

    •  No One Makes Anyone Gamble... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dennisl, Yemtex

      The idea that taxing gambling is a tax on the poor is ridiculous.  No one forces poor folks, or rich folks or black folks, white folks, American Indians, or riders of Indian bikes or anyone else to gamble.

      It is a personal choice.  It is a personal responsibility to not gamble what you cannot afford to lose.

      One thing that has always bothered me about progressives is that in a lot of respects they agree with the evangelicals in using government to enforce their idea of morals.  Sure, each respective group might have their own reasons, but each is very willing to use the same means to reach their ends: nanny state government that takes responsibilities away from individuals and codifies them into laws.  

      In my view, that's a slippery slope that can quickly avalanche to tyranny.  In fact under George Bush, it already has in a lot of ways.

  •  MD voter (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stitchmd, Mr Rick

    I'm voting no.

  •  Totally off topic, but a serious question (0+ / 0-)

    a friend of mine just told me that her family went for early voting in Montgomery County on Saturday. Has anyone else heard of this? I can't confirm it on the state board of elections web site, and as I told her, it's on the ballot (early voting) and was declared illegal in 2006 by court decision.

    She said her family said there were long lines, etc.

    If anyone has any information, please let me know. Thanks.

    Hockey Moms for Obama!

    by stitchmd on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:12:41 AM PST

  •  I'm voting yes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dennisl

    I'm just really sick and tired of the slots issue crowding out everything else during the General Assembly session. Let's pass the damn bill and be done with it. Maryland has the lottery, big game, and Keno. You can play Keno on-line from your den for pity's sake. I just can't see slots being the rock that tips the state into Gommorah.

    Will slots bring in as much revenue as promised? Probably not. We're now competing with three surrounding states for that revenue. I'm really a bigger advocate of full-blown casinos. It would be a tourist/convention draw at the Inner Harbor, you'd hire more people; housekeeping staff, coupiers, pit bosses, waitstaff, stage hands, etc. A bit more bang for the buck and we'd be the only state outside of NJ with full table gaming.

    Slots are coming. It's a done deal. Focus on making the state income tax more progressive.  

    I listen to wingnut radio so you don't have to!

    by Sharon on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:13:41 AM PST

    •  ever been to downtown Detoit? (0+ / 0-)

      They have several casinos in the downtown area - the city economy is no better and the casino presence has done nothing but make the city look more creepy, empty, depressing and desolate than it already was when the auto industry went belly up.

      •  As bad a Baltimore can be in some parts of town& (0+ / 0-)

        The Inner Harbor is a lot more robust than downtown Detroit. It's also by leaps and bounds, nicer than Atlantic City. Sure there are huge swaths of the city that are just bombed out, but I'm not talking about locating a number of casinos in Pigtown.

        I listen to wingnut radio so you don't have to!

        by Sharon on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:22:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Casinos on the Inner Harbor (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          vcthree

          would be one hell of an eyesore.

          •  I think you guys are on the losing side of this (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            vcthree

            I think the market meltdown destroyed any momentum on the part of No on Slots. Even though they won't generate as much revenue as promised, it's still something.

            You know, I blame Glendenning for not funding Thornton. If he had any balls, we wouldn't have been arguing about slots for the last 7 years.

            I listen to wingnut radio so you don't have to!

            by Sharon on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:29:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The problem I have with the argument... (0+ / 0-)

              ...about slots (even as I'm leaning to vote in support of Q2) is that the argument seems to have shifted in the four years we've been arguing about it.  I mean, wasn't the caveat for passing slots four years ago to "save Pimlico and Laurel Race Tracks"?  Now it's "save our schools"?

              You know who I'm votin for? Might never know! That one.

              by vcthree on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:32:35 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  O'Malley is better at marketing than Erlich? :-) (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                vcthree

                I listen to wingnut radio so you don't have to!

                by Sharon on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:35:48 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well, he got elected Governor, didn't he? (0+ / 0-)

                  I mean, Ehrlich was very effective as a campaigner in 2002...but that's easy to say, given the non-existent campaigning of Kathleen Townsend...

                  You know who I'm votin for? Might never know! That one.

                  by vcthree on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:37:55 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  that's because in truth slots have nothing to do (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                vcthree

                with saving horse racing. By installing slots, Maryland tracks would get a taxpayer handout to transform themselves into casinos - why bother with continuing to operate as a lower profit race track that nobody goes to any more? In actuality, slots will end up burying horse racing in our state, not saving it.

                •  So, in essence... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...they become what Charles Town has become--a mini-Reno.

                  (And I kid you not--it's the only casino in the town, but in five years, I've seen it transform from a rinky-dink track with a huge casino, to a place with giant parking garages, a driveway, and it's own hotel to go along with it.  But the jockeys still get beans for pay.

                  You know who I'm votin for? Might never know! That one.

                  by vcthree on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:42:51 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  MD voter (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wmtriallawyer, stitchmd, Mr Rick

    and am proudly voting no.

    Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds. Buddha

    by zenbowl on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:14:48 AM PST

  •  More slots. Less morality police. (5+ / 0-)

    Not to mention that Maryland has a glorious history of thoroughbred racing that will be imperiled if slots legislation fails.

    Every time I'm at the Preakness it makes me sad that what should be a jewel of a track has been let go to seed.  

    •  you are kidding me... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      f furney

      yes how delightful it is to see race horses pumped to the gills with steroids and painkillers, racing on factured hips and broken legs and then breaking down on national TV and being euthanized. What a great tradition.

      •  Yep. Who do you like in the Dubai Gold Cup? (0+ / 0-)

        ...I'm thinking we should try a pick six at Gulfstream too, if you're game.

      •  While the balance of your argument... (0+ / 0-)

        is mostly correct, righteous sarcasm will not win over too many people who might feel differently than you. I myself am torn on the issue, and I like to carefully consider both sides. Reading comments like the one you posted above pushes me toward yes on an emotional level, while on a rational level I follow your logic. You see my point? If I have inclinations toward voting yes, and then you call me an animal hater it does not exactly endear me to your position, and might solidify me as a yes. While I understand that you have the "moral" position, that is not what always wins the vote.

        You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

        by FrankCornish on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:34:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am not being the least bit sarcastic (0+ / 0-)

          I don't think the average American has any idea what really goes on in the horse racing industry.
          What happened to Barbaro and Eight Belles was appalling - but it goes on in horse racing every single day. As I said, I come from a family that raised race horses and followed horse racing for many years. I have been shocked to learn how most race horses are treated, and I have turned away from the sport completely. The steroid and pain killer use is rampant - both when horses are being auctioned (steroids make them look good) and then on the track. They are raced on broken hips and limbs. At the end of many race horses very short lives, they are sent to the slaughter house, are quickly euthanized, or are so crippled they can barely walk. There are many responsible owners and trainers out there, but still many more irresponsible ones. Fines are a joke. The industry needs massive clean up before I would ever enjoy watching it again.

          •  Look, I'm not saying you're wrong... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mr Rick

            but your tone is going to turn people away. They don't know what you know, and unless you explain in the detail, like you just did--you're going to lose voters. Your initial comment was flippant and dismissive; most people don't react the way you want them to when you do that. Look, I'm on your side; I generally think gambling is a bad thing for the government to advocate, but with the Lotto and all, the waters are pretty muddy right now. I think if you stick to revenue arguments, and that its a false fix to a real tax policy you're on firmer ground. You have to give people room to come around to your side. You can't brow-beat them into it.

            You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

            by FrankCornish on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 12:13:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Hey, at least that's an honest answer (0+ / 0-)

      I liked slots better when it actually WAS being sold as a way to save the horsing industry, as opposed to the lie that it is going to save education funding.

      Personally, that's why I voted against it...the promised revenue ain't going to be there.

      But I do agree with that this "morality" tack in opposition is really kind of distateful.  

      McCain/Palin. The sex and violence ticket.

      by wmtriallawyer on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:50:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I do not see anywhere in my diary where I said (0+ / 0-)

        gambling is immoral. State partnerships with the gambling industry causes just as many problems - if not more - than it solves, and it is crappy policy to pay for our government with gambling revenue.

        I also think it is unjust to make middle income and poor people pay more for our government and make it easier for more people to become gambling addicts so that we can keep our state budget in the black.

        But I did not say there is anything immoral about it. No one is going to go to hell for a lost weekend in Vegas.

        •  I wasn't referring to your diary (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mr Rick

          I was referring to Franchot's stance, as well as some of the e-mails I have gotten from the Stop Slots group with respect to the morality issue, which honestly, I think is the wrong play.

          Sorry for the confusion.

          McCain/Palin. The sex and violence ticket.

          by wmtriallawyer on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 01:05:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  np (0+ / 0-)

            it certainly has been a very strange mix of bedfellows on both sides of this issue:

            PTA, teacher's union, and gambling bosses saying "yes"

            Bible thumpers, local county boards, and progressive policy wonks saying "no"

  •  If I was a MD resident... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zenbowl

    I'd be voting yes I think.  

    Ironically, here in Northern VA, I've seen the "Yes on slot ads" but zero "No on slots" ads - is there a "No on slots" movement?  

  •  Tough call, but I agree - vote NO on slots (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Rick

    I admit to having gone back and forth on this for a while. My inner libertarian (or is that my inner addictive personality?) doesn't have a problem with gambling per se. But ultimately I think we've had enough of the quick fix mentality, and it's time to grow up and start funding our core infrastructure and services out of tax revenues.

  •  The reason I voted no... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Rick

    is because the revenue promised just isn't going to be there.  We need to stop looking at these quick fix schemes for revenue and get honest about our relatively unfair tax structure in MD, which amounts to a flat tax (at least until this past special session when some of the taxes were raised on the wealthiest).

    I mean, seriously.  We have the highest per capita income in the US, and we have to solve our budget woes with slot machines?!?

    Something is not kosher about that.

    McCain/Palin. The sex and violence ticket.

    by wmtriallawyer on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:52:49 AM PST

  •  By the way (0+ / 0-)

    thanks for this diary.  I've really been having a hard time deciding what to do, and it helps to hear other opinions.

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