Friday, November 2, 2007


Anne Arundel County Council Member Josh Cohen (D-6) today had his legislative aide Gail Smith read a statement opposing slots to the Joint House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Budget and Taxation Committee hearing. CP is in complete agreement with Cohen‘s statement published below, but would like to add another reason why. Slots allow government to continue to be irresponsible, take the easy way out and to keep looking to this questionable source of revenue in its never ending quest to spend and spend (I’m not sure if Josh would agree on that one or not…). Just one question--did the Speaker ask you to do this? Herewith are Councilman Cohen's remarks:

Dear Delegate Hixson, Senator Currie, and Members of the Committees: I urge you to hold the line against slot machines here in Maryland. As elected officials, I believe that one of our first responsibilities is, as Hippocrates wrote, to “do no harm.” In other words, whatever actions we take during our term of office, let’s not do anything to leave our jurisdiction worse off than we found it. This is as true for protecting the health of the Chesapeake Bay as it is for protecting the quality of life in our communities. Slots will do nothing to improve our quality of life. Their social ills are well-documented. They encourage gambling addiction and lead to more child neglect, divorce, bankruptcy and broken families, not to mention prostitution, illegal drug use and organized crime. Their economic ills are well-documented. They are a huge vacuum that sucks up millions of dollars in disposable income, leaving less money to support locally-owned small businesses. To appreciate the impact of slots on local businesses, we need look no further than the horse racing industry’s about-face. In the 1990s the industry opposed casinos because they would lure betting customers away from the tracks. Only more recently, when slots were proposed at racetracks, did the racing industry become slots’ biggest cheerleader. Just as the state regulates other so-called “victimless” vices such as prostitution, alcohol and drugs, the state has every right to regulate and restrict gambling. Not only does it have the right, it has the obligation. The only reason the state is considering slots is money. But as any small non-profit organization can attest, it is foolish and short-sighted to go “chasing the money.” Non-profits and state governments alike need to stay true to their values and mission. Maryland is already a wonderful state with a tremendous quality of life. It would be foolish and short-sighted to knowingly start down a slippery path in which the state takes on a vested interest in turning more and more of its own citizens into gamblers. As elected representatives, we are hired by the people to make tough decisions. I respectfully urge the General Assembly to “do no harm” and vote down slots legislation in this Special Session. If instead the matter goes to referendum, I hope the question posed will be a responsible one. Instead of a partial question about support of slots in the abstract, the question should be a responsible one about support of slots in one’s own jurisdiction. Thank you for your time and consideration.


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