Maryland could see new casinos
Sophomore Taylor Smith is from Anne Arundel County, close to the Maryland Live! Casino that was constructed one year ago. He said the casino drew enormous crowds, traffic and general congestion to the area.
“I don’t see anything wrong with gambling as long as it’s regulated,” he said. “It sucks for the people who live near there, but [I support it] because of the jobs it creates with the added security, dealers and everything.”
Question 7 on the Maryland voter’s ballot, if passed, will allow casinos like the one in Anne Arundel County to operate table games, increase the number of video lottery terminals, change the hours of video lottery-licensed establishments, authorize a casino in Prince George’s County and open a casino in Baltimore City.
“I am supporting it, although in the past I have not supported gambling,” Prince George’s County Delegate Anne Healey said. “What has changed is that what we have now in Maryland is the least attractive kind of gambling and least productive. What we will allow with question 7 is hiring people to handle table games.”
Baltimore City resident and Towson University sophomore Joy Dorsey thinks that there will be many negative aspects if a casino is approved in Baltimore City.
“It’s going to be extremely crowded, and it already is with visitors to the Harbor,” she said. “I don’t think it’s good.”
Some benefits of the bill are increased jobs and reallocation of profits toward education, Healey said.
“There are all kinds of opportunities for entertainment and it will help strengthen the economy,” she said.
The current law states the primary purpose of video lottery terminals is to raise revenue for education, construction, and capital improvements for Maryland public schools, and the construction of capital projects at community colleges and public higher education institutions.
In September 2012, 48.5 percent of the slot machine revenue total for the three open casinos in Maryland went toward the education trust fund, the Maryland Lottery Financial Report states.
That was a total of $20,806,055.63 for the month. The remaining distribution of revenue was primarily to the casino operators at 33 percent.
Currently, Maryland casinos have video lottery operation licenses, which means they are only authorized to have video lottery terminals, such as slots and video poker.
The maximum number of video lottery terminals that may be operated in the state is 15,000, but Question 7 would increase that number to 16,500, and authorize establishments with video lottery licenses to also operate table games, such as blackjack, poker, craps, roulette and baccarat, which require dealers.
Question 7 will allow for a sixth video lottery facility license to be awarded to Prince George’s County at the National Harbor. Along with the video lottery license, they would also be authorized to operate table games, as the other casinos are, through Question 7.
This location would be allocated up to 3,000 video lottery terminals. And it would not be open to the public until July 2016, or 30 months after the video lottery facility in Baltimore City is open.
An additional change in Question 7 is the extension of hours for the casinos. Currently casinos can be open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. Friday through Saturday. The bill proposes casinos be open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
The casino in Prince George’s County has the potential to generate 3.95 million patron visits per year, where the Hollywood Casino generates an estimated 1.37 million patron visits per year, according to the Maryland Gaming Market Analysis.
The Maryland Live! Casino at Arundel Mills that cost $500 million is the same size as the prospective casinos in Prince George’s County and Baltimore City. One difference between the prospective casinos and the existing Arundel Mills Casino is the revenue per patron is expected to be lower due to lower income in Baltimore and Prince George’s County in comparison to Anne Arundel County, the Market Analysis stated.
Healey said the surrounding residents are less likely to be impacted because the infrastructure is already there to build a casino, so there will not be as much construction.
“It’s just not as much of an issue for people who live in the neighborhoods there,” Healey said. “The infrastructure is already in place there wouldn’t have to be more expense to bring people in and out of there. And If people are concerned about working class residents going in and spending their money, it’s not an issue, it will be a high-end casino.”