10/10/09 Letter to the Editor on Slots

Slots Revenue

This Letter to the Editor ran in the Maryland Gazette on 10/10/09

 

County Executive John Leopold has been chastising the County Council for not changing zoning regulations around Arundel Mills mall to allow slots. Two weeks ago, Leopold indicated that the $30 million in potential revenue the county would receive from slot machines could be used by the county to pay for services.

Leopold is mistaken. Anne Arundel County would receive 4.51 percent of the profits from slot machines at the mall, but this wouldn't go into the general fund. The county would be restricted to using these local impact fees to make infrastructure improvements in the immediate vicinity of the mall.

The area around Arundel Mills mall is a thriving residential area with hundreds of homes right across the street and behind the mall. Baltimore City prohibited slot machines on properties adjacent to or within 1/4 mile of property zoned for residential use. If the same protections had been written into the bill for Anne Arundel County residents, slots at Arundel Mills mall probably wouldn't have been an option.

Senate Bill 3 was written assuming that Laurel Park Racecourse would be the Anne Arundel site for slot machines, and this location makes far more sense. Laurel Park sits on relatively secluded land where people have been betting on horse races since 1911. While there are some homes in the area, it is likely that the residents have made their peace with gambling.

There's no reason we should risk the quality of life of families who live near Arundel Mills mall. The County Council should reject Leopold's request to rezone the area. If the tax revenue is critical to the state, leaders should shift their focus to figuring out how to reopen the bidding to allow slots at Laurel Park Racecourse.

JOANNA L. CONTI
President, Make Maryland Great

 

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