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."
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.
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