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Nov. 20, 2010

A bad gamble

by Liv Jacobson, Online Entertainment Editor
Gambling isn't just for Las Vegas anymore. In 2008, Maryland voters passed a referendum that allowed slot machine gambling within the state. Previously, Maryland gamblers had to travel to West Virginia or Pennsylvania to gamble locally. Now, gamblers can have more readily accessible opportunities to boost the state's economy. According to the Washington Post, the state faces a $1.6 billion budget deficit, which is estimated to grow to $2.1 billion in the next several years. The state's first slot machine casino in Perryville, however, raised $2 million in the first four days of operation. While slot machines are an effective way to raise money for the state, the newly selected slot venue is a definite mistake.

The new Arundel Mills Mall Casino will be detrimental to the horse racing industry and is in an unsuitable, family-friendly location. Courtesy of washingtonpost.com
The new Arundel Mills Mall Casino will be detrimental to the horse racing industry and is in an unsuitable, family-friendly location.
This past election day, Anne Arundel County voters passed “Question A,” which allows for a slot machine parlor to be built at Arundel Mills Mall. When the original state referendum allowing slot machines was passed in 2008, many assumed that at least two of the five allotted slot venues would be at Maryland horseracing facilities. However, Magna Entertainment Corporation, the parent company of the Laurel Park track, made a mistake in its application process. Now, neither the Laurel Park nor the Pimlico racetracks – two world-renowned horseracing venues – will host slot machine parlors. The building of a slot machine parlor at Arundel Mills Mall will devastate the Maryland horseracing industry, which is a far more suitable gambling environment.

Laurel Park and Pimilico racetracks are the hosts of world-famous races, including the Washington D.C. International and the Preakness. Horseracing used to be a primary industry for the state, but in the past several decades the industry has been in decline. A slot parlor at Laurel Park was meant to bring in spectators to view live races. Now, live racing will be obsolete at Laurel Park, and Pimlico will only host races in the spring.

The loss of live racing at Laurel will also eliminate approximately 15,000 jobs, and the glory that once was Maryland horseracing will be diminished. Laurel Park was established in 1911, and for decades has hosted races almost every other day. The loss of this cornerstone of both Maryland and American horse racing will not just be a blow to horse racing fanatics, but also to the community members who are employed at the track. Slots should be placed at Laurel Park rather than Arundel Mills to keep this historic institution in business.

Furthermore, the environment of horseracing venues is much more suitable for slot machines than that for a mall. Gambling is already a central focus at racetracks, and slot machines appeal to the same customers as those who place bets on horse races. Arundel Mills Mall, however, is a family-friendly mall with stores such as Toys“R”Us and Children's Place. Slot machines aren't something that young children need to be around, as only responsible adults should consider gambling.

While slot machines at Arundel Mills will help shrink the state's budget deficit, it will in turn extremely hurt the horse racing industry. Slot machines should be allowed to be placed at the Laurel Park facility to simultaneously bring customers and money back into horse racing and raise money for the state. Allowing slots at Arundel Mills just doesn't fit the mall's family-friendly atmosphere. Slots should be left to gamblers, not shoppers.



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  • Anthony "Bert" Bertino (View Email) on November 21, 2010 at 8:32 AM
    I would have to admit, that if I only read your article, I would think that this is a bad proposition for the people who visit the Arundel Mills Mall - BUT, let us look at what "mistakes" the Laurel Park facility made.
    Primarily, they did not have enough money to apply for a license to operate as a slot racetrack (Racino).
    Race tracks do not always make a good casino as many people who visit slot facilities do not even go near the race / simulcast facility.
    Slot casinos coming to Maryland did not curtail the activity at racetracks, this began twenty years ago, with declining revenues for that period of time that has caused Magna Entertainment to be unable to apply for a casino license because they we near bankruptcy.
    Maryland has dragged it's feet for many years, allowing neighboring states, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware (a state you forgot to mention) attain slots and now even table games.
    Finally, if race tracks are such a perfect place for casinos in Maryland, why wouldn't the largest owner of race tracks in the United States - Penn National Gaming, apply for a license in Cecil County, rather than buying a race track facility. Penn National only joined forces with MI, to stop the slot facility in Arundel Mills.
    Will there be children in Toy R Us who want to go into the casino to gamble – about the same amount that would go to a race track to play with the horses.
    If you made widgets or buggy whips at the turn of the last century, you would have to either adapted or gone out of business. Race tracks that are adapting have prospered, as the horse racing industry dwindles away. I remember a time when baseball stadiums were mammoth and held 70,000 people, and football stadiums were small parks. Now baseball is basically played in “parks” of 40,000 – 45,000 people, while football stadiums can in some cases hold 100,000.
    Ms. Jacobson, let us be serious, this was a great win for the people of Ann Arundel County and the State of Maryland, that will show in the coming years to be a financial windfall for the residents of both. With unemployment being addressed by this new facility, over 4,000 good paying jobs will be created. The jobs that could be lost are mostly low paying, transient jobs. Advantage – Casinos in Maryland.

    Anthony "Bert" Bertino
  • Russ Diaz (View Email) on November 21, 2010 at 5:09 PM
    Well, Liv, we know which side you were on. You only repeated your beliefs several times throughout your article. However, the people of Hanover and Severn and nearby areas got the referendum question on the ballot that they wanted, and it was not inconspicuously worded. It said that "If you want Bill 89-05 to take effect vote "FOR", and if you do not want Bill 89-05 to take effect, vote "AGAINST". The volunteers for Jobs and Revenue for Anne Arundel were more agressive in their door-to-door campaign than the No Slots at the Mall campaign...and the No Slots at the Mall campaign (aided by the deep pockets of Penn National Gaming) were more agressive with their television ads. However, if it is one thing that this whole campaign has taught me, you DO NOT have to lie to the voters to win what you want. Mr. Cordish and his volunteers told NOT 1 LIE, while PNG vomited more untruths than we could handle. And I would really like you to break down the 15,000 jobs you say will be lost. Are most of them covered by illegal immigrants? Probably. But I don't believe there were ever 15,000 jobs, because MID and their bankruptcy problems couldn't even put up the 28.5 million dollars for the bidding fee. To the horsemen and women of Maryland...don't listen to this rubbish Ms. Liv is spewing. Insist that MID and Penn National sell their shares to Mr. Cordish. He can afford to keep the racing tradition alive in Maryland. And to Tom Chuckas...YOU are one of the MAIN reasons horse racing is failing in Maryland. If you would spend more on racetrack renovations, infrastructures, and purses, you may see an upswing in attendance. If this is not in your agenda, get out of the business and leave it to someone with some intelligence.
  • annoyed scholar on November 23, 2010 at 10:40 AM
    I The winter evening settles down With smell of steaks in passageways. Six o'clock. The burnt-out ends of smoky days. And now a gusty shower wraps The grimy scraps Of withered leaves about your feet And newspapers from vacant lots; The showers beat On broken blinds and chimney-pots, And at the corner of the street A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps. And then the lighting of the lamps. II The morning comes to consciousness Of faint stale smells of beer >From the sawdust-trampled street With all its muddy feet that press To early coffee-stands. With the other masquerades That time resumes, One thinks of all the hands That are raising dingy shades In a thousand furnished rooms. III You tossed a blanket from the bed, You lay upon your back, and waited; You dozed, and watched the night revealing The thousand sordid images Of which your soul was constituted; They flickered against the ceiling. And when all the world came back And the light crept up between the shutters, And you heard the sparrows in the gutters, You had such a vision of the street As the street hardly understands; Sitting along the bed's edge, where You curled the papers from your hair, Or clasped the yellow soles of feet In the palms of both soiled hands. IV His soul stretched tight across the skies That fade behind a city block, Or trampled by insistent feet At four and five and six o'clock And short square fingers stuffing pipes, And evening newspapers, and eyes Assured of certain certainties, The conscience of a blackened street Impatient to assume the world. I am moved by fancies that are curled Around these images, and cling: The notion of some infinitely gentle Infinitely suffering thing. Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh; The worlds revolve like ancient women Gathering fuel in vacant lots. GET HIP!
    • wow on November 30, 2010 at 2:31 PM
      way to post a completely unrelated comment. lmfao
      • Russ D...again (View Email) on December 23, 2010 at 9:09 PM
        If you think THAT one was weird, take a look at the one from Frank the Tank...below!
  • skeptical optimist on November 25, 2010 at 11:41 PM
    I don't support slots. We have lottery. That is enough gambling for me. For the sake of the good people living near Arundel Mills, I truly hope this turns into the boon the voters are hoping for. In spite of the fact that the slot facilities will not be in the mall, the sheer proximity of it to a family centered place like the Mills is troublesome to me. Howevet, the eminent creation of a slots parlor makes me want to visit the ones in DE and PA. Not for the slots, but to visit the communities surrounding them. I would love to see how they are "thriving" and to speak with residents. To see if their lives are truly better since the casinos. Everyone is talking about the amount of money to be made. But what about the amount of money spent dealing with the burdens that come with having casino gambling?
  • Frank the Tank on December 23, 2010 at 8:48 AM
    Alrighty, then ... picture this if you will. 10 to 2 AM, X, Yogi DMT, and a box of Krispy Kremes, In my "need to know" pose, just outside of Area 51 Contemplating the whole "chosen people" thingy When a flaming stealth banana split the sky Like one would hope but never really expect To see in a place like this. Cutting right angle donuts on a dime And stopping right at my Birkenstocks, And me yelping... Holy f*****g s**t! Then the X-Files being, Looking like some kind of blue-green Jackie Chan With Isabella Rossellini lips, and breath that reeked of Vanilla Chig Champa Did a slow-mo Matrix descent Outta the butt end of the banana vessel And hovered above my bug-eyes, my gaping jaw, And my sweaty L. Ron Hubbard upper lip, And all I could think was: "I hope Uncle Martin here doesn't notice That I pissed my f***in' pants."
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