Monday, November 5, 2012

Expansion of Maryland Gaming - Tomorrow's the Day

Tomorrow is Election Day.  For Maryland/D.C./Virginia poker players, not only will tomorrow's election decide our next President, it will also determine whether we must continue driving to West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Atlantic City to play cards. 
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Penn National, owner of nearby Charles Town Casino in West Virginia, has waged an unprecedented ad campaign against Proposition 7 (which would permit table games in existing Maryland Casinos and would allow for another casino to be built by National Harbor, just outside D.C.).  Penn National has spent approximately $40 million on negative ads.  Yes, $40 million . . .. 



And, as a result, according to recent polls, Prop 7 is a toss-up, at best.
Putting aside those who are simply morally opposed to gambling, there seems to be no valid reason to vote down this prop.  Even assuming some truth to Penn National's ads, it's still hard to see the downside to this initiative.  Yet, plenty of people are against gaming expansion.  As one person commented this afternoon on a Washington Post Online article on the prop:

"The vision is for the casino owners to pull up in Brinks armored cars with sacks of cash while the sucker local blacks continue to get ripped off.....I already voted NO."

Um.  OK.  Well done, sir.  First, Maryland already has (or has approved) five casinos.  Currently, they offer only slots.  For those concerned that table games and one additional casino are going to disproportionately impact the lower class, give me a break . . . The most -EV games are already widely available.  If poor people want to donk away their paychecks, they already have the ability.  
Another women posted this:
i just read the question 7 bill on the state website. no where does it say anything about money earmarked for the schools will go exclusively to the schools. the gov/legislature can use it as needed. i'm voting no on that alone.
Really?  Really?!?  I mean, come on.  REALLY!?!?!?  Even assuming the increased tax revenue does not go to fund education, it's still increased tax revenue.  How is increased tax revenue ever a bad thing when it's coming from gaming proceeds?  Would people rather the State increase income, sales or property taxes?  Essentially, MGM is going to build a world class gaming resort, and Jim Murren is going to hand over 50% of the take to the State.  Who gives a shit if that money goes to education, or whether it goes to funding public works, or whether it's used simply to bridge the budget deficit.  WHO CARES!  It's revenue the state otherwise would not have.  Yet, clearly, based on the comments I've seen, Penn National has succeeded in transforming the debate into whether or not Maryland's legislators can be trusted when they say the money will be used for education.   Penn National has flashed a metaphoric shiny object in front of Maryland citizens, and far too many have clearly been distracted . . .
Finally, opponents of gaming expansion challenge MGM's claims that a new casino at National Harbor will create thousands of construction jobs and 4,000 permanent resort-related jobs.  Seems to me, this is axiomatic.  Critics contend, however, that many of the construction jobs will be performed by out-of-state union workers. I have no idea whether this is true or not.  But, again, lets assume it is true.  So what?  So some of the temporary construction jobs will go to non-Maryland residents.  Is this a reason to vote down the prop?  A new casino will still create construction jobs, regardless who will be filling them.  And, perhaps more importantly, both the new MGM resort, as well as the five existing casinos, will be hiring thousands of new workers to man the table games, restaurants, hotel, and other amenities.  These jobs will no doubt be going to local residents.
The bottom line (at least in the eyes of The Poker Barrister) is this:  where is the downside?  Aside from the few ideologues who believe gambling is immoral, why would anyone vote against this?   
If Proposition 7 fails, I have little doubt the result will be owed to Penn National's persistent negative adds coupled with the average citizen's inability to perform independent thought.  And, the kicker, of course, will come a year from now, when MGM has gone away, and it's Penn National that's lobbying the State for a new referendum permitting table games so that it can expand its Maryland facilities at Perryville and Rosecroft Raceway. Should such day come, I only hope the hypocracy is not lost on the sheep . . .



  1. Hard for me to understand why people vote against new sources of revenue and jobs. That being said:

    Question: "Even assuming the increased tax revenue does not go to fund education, it's still increased tax revenue. How is increased tax revenue ever a bad thing when it's coming from gaming proceeds?"

    Answer: When you live in Illinois and the money just goes to pay off the politically connected, feed more no-bid contracts, etc ...

  2. Yes, I guess if we factor political corruption and graft, opponents may have a point. Yet, I find it hard to believe that's the driving force behind the side who is intent on voting this down.

    My official boycott of Penn National may begin tonight . . .

  3. Shaking my head right there with you, Pete. I've tried making the same arguments with folks who just don't seem to get it. This is looking mighty close but hopefully it's going to just barely get through. Fingers crossed!

  4. Latest update , with 32% vote in, prop 7 up 52% to 48%.... Keeping hope alive. Congrats on the wedding, Bo

  5. Did it pass? I could google, but I want to hear it from the horse's mouth. You are the horse!



  6. I focuse on cash games. wether it be a low limit game at home or the game at the casino as players we need to understand profit is profit and even leaving even means its been a good day. Thomas