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UPDATE: Prince George's County Council Gives Slots Vote the Slip -- For Now

“Slots are like crack,” a community activist told the council. More than 80 residents packed the hearing room.

With dozens of residents arguing the religious and economic ramifications of slot machines, the Prince George's County Council has put off for another day a decision on whether to ban slots in the county.

The council voted 5-4 against CB-49, a bill introduced earlier in the fall by Eric Olson (D-Dist.3) of College Park, effectively tabling further discussion on slots legislation until 2012.

Council members cited the need for more discussion on what slots could bring to the county in terms of revenue and economic development.

“There’s too much conflicting information,” said council member Mel Franklin (D-Dist.9) of Upper Marlboro. “Our ability to raise revenues is constrained. I don’t believe there is a perfect answer. I believe this bill is premature.”

Penn National Gaming, owner of Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, has made a push to legalize slots at the track after acquiring it earlier this summer. A in revenues would be generated within the first year by slots in the county.

Placing slots at Rosecroft would have to get the backing of the Maryland General Assembly and likely a voter referedum.

Some 80 residents lined up to speak at the public hearing preceding the vote.

“Slots are like crack,” said community activist Arthur Turner. “I ask that you stand strong. We don’t need to think the only alternative is slots.”

But Eddie Martin, vice mayor of District Heights, said revenues generated by slots could be used to help struggling municipalities.

“We’re broke,” he said. “We can’t find money for anything. What are we suppose to do? We have to survive.”

Some residents said they were split on the whether the county should allow slots and urged the council to allow citizens to decide in a referendum.

“We are not in a position to make a definite decision for or against [the bill],” said Gerald Lucas, president of the Tantallon North Area Civic Association in Fort Washington. He said his membership could not reach  consensus on the bill.

Council members said they were wary of some of the social ills that slots could bring to the county.

"I believe Prince George's County is better than this. ...We don't need to do it," said Councilwoman Andrea Harrison (D-Dist. 5). "You all are going to do what you want to. But I am going to do what I have to do and support the people of Prince George's County."

Previous story

The Prince George's County Council today tabled a that would ban slot machines throughout the county.

Council members voted 5-4 against the bill, CB-49, in a motion to table the legislation raised by council member Obie Patterson (D-Dist. 8) of Fort Washington.

The vote temporarily silenced a two-month debate on whether or not Prince George's County should block any voter referendum aimed at bringing slots to the county.

Penn National Gaming, owner of Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, has made a push to legalize slots at the track after acquiring it earlier this summer. The track declared bankruptcy and closed last year.

Check back for our full story.

JustABill November 20, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Mr. McArdle, you are completely proving my assertion that you are apparently "uneducated and misinformed" on this issue. I would also call to question your reading comprehension because you clearly did not gather any information from my post. The slots that would be in a veterans facility would not have any connection to the government beyond a vote allowing a VFW or American Legion to independently own and operate 5 slot machines in their bars which are only patronized by their members and guests. There is no "payoff" as you are trying to imply. As for your claim that deterioration, decay, and destruction can accompany legalized gambling, I will simply ask you when was the last time you visited Charles Town, WV or Dover, DE recently? Both cities have enjoyed a healthy revitalization since slots and now full casino gambling were legalized and people from Maryland are flocking to both locations for the influx of JOBS that have accompanied the influx of residual businesses into those areas. If given the choice, I am sure the community you speak of would vote for increased revenues and JOBS over the possibility of higher taxes, and one business after another closing down and thus even fewer jobs being available in an already struggling economy. In the end your reasons for not wanting slots are respectable but they are very short sighted and not the views of the majority as we well know.
michael mcardle November 20, 2011 at 07:46 PM
Once again, JustaBill, you are proving just who it is who is NOT on top of the facts. The payoff I referred to is elected officials permitting legalized gambling, sir. Your continued attempt to claim I do not understand the nature of this vote, and the current structural conduct of slots, is simply incorrect. We can agree to disagree without being disagreeable, so I would encourage you to stick to the facts to support your argument.
JustABill November 20, 2011 at 10:13 PM
I assume you really just don't like to read or you simply choose to ignore the truth. Even a political novice would know enough to understand that the democrats in PG county have no need to "pay off" veterans considering they rarely get strong support from Veterans in elections. If anyone is being paid off by votes for or against a particular slots bill in PG County it would be the developers of National Harbor who were instrumental in getting the PG County delegation to vote against Gov. Ehrlich's slots bills because they would not have brought slots to their facilities. You claim that I am not using facts to support my argument but you continue to ignore them in your responses. I will agree to disagree with you but only because you are blatantly avoiding the issues I have addressed in rebuttal to your remarks and it is pointless to try to discuss this with a brick wall. Slots and casinos have done nothing but improve the numerous towns and cities that have them in our neighboring states as a direct result of the flood of revenues and residual jobs that have come with the casinos and related businesses. Charles Town, WV is a glowing example of the benefits of Casinos and Atlantic City which is often used as an example of how casinos can hurt a city has been revitalized in recent years with the help of Cordish and other companies that have redeveloped block after block and brought tens of thousands of new jobs into the city and it has been getting better every year.
michael mcardle November 21, 2011 at 04:20 AM
Your fanaticism, sir, renders your argument hollow I am afraid. I think everyone now gets the point !
JustABill November 22, 2011 at 09:17 AM
Sir, if anyone has a hollow argument it is proven by your failure to acknowledge or respond to even one of the examples I gave to dispute your assertion that an influx of casino gambling would bring "deterioration, decay, and destruction." If the bill in question would have also allowed for faith based organizations to use forms of gambling for fundraising to support their charitable programs or to build or make renovations to their facilities I assume you would be against that as well but I would make a wager that a majority of the people that hold the same point of view as you would seriously consider changing their position. Lets not forget that only 15 years ago casino nights were held regularly throughout Prince Georges County and helped to raise much needed money for volunteer fire departments and other nonprofit organizations. If your claim were accurate, with all that gambling happening in the county back then one would think there would have been all this deterioration, decay, and destruction but instead the result was a bunch of bright shiny new fire trucks, rescue squads, and even new or renovated fire houses. Yes, there were incidents of corruption and misdirection of funds by some individuals within the bureaucracy running some of those casino nights but over all it was a very beneficial situation for the people of PG County. What you call fanaticism I call a strong argument supported with a wealth of facts and examples. Yes, I am a fan of gambling over taxes.

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