Electronic gambling device ban could affect jobs, boost slots

The ban, expected to affected 1,000 machines in bingo parlors and bars across the state, awaits the governor’s signature. The gambling devices are similar to slots with spinning sevens and cherries but legal under a legislative loophole.

Supporters of the ban, including House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, said the games compete with the state lottery and legitimate slot machines that could be legalized in a November referendum.

“The fact of the matter is, you lose revenue by not voting on this for the state of Maryland,” Busch said.

Gov. Martin O’Malley said he has not yet read the bill and needs to study it. The governor, a slots supporter, noted the proposal “wasn’t an administration priority.” He has until the end of May to sign the bill or veto it.

Opponents of the ban, including most lawmakers from Anne Arundel County, say the machines are tightly regulated. Anne Arundel is home to about 200 devices in three commercial bingo halls.

If signed by O’Malley, the county stands to lose about $1.6 million in annual taxes and fees, and some parlor employees could lose their jobs.

Larry Weinstein, president of Odenton-based Atlantic Bingo Supply — which provides the machines to the county’s bingo parlors in Maryland City, Brooklyn Park and Wayson’s Corner — said he hopes lawmakers reverse their decision in the next legislative session.

“Today, I’m OK,” Weinstein said. “We’ll see what the legislative appetite is for three places that do it right.”

The …

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O’Malley, Franchot spar on slots — again

Peter Franchot - Wikipedia

BALTIMORE
(Map, News)

Maryland’s top slots supporter, Gov. Martin O’Malley, berated Comptroller Peter Franchot on Wednesday for his vocal opposition to legalized gambling machines, chiding his Democratic foe for “throwing stones in a hypocritical way.”

O’Malley’s remarks came hours before Franchot attended the start of an anti-slots organization.

“The comptroller has had the wonderful luxury of sitting back and doing nothing to help us restore fiscal responsibility while throwing stones in a hypocritical way at the one piece of this, the 25 percent that is slots — a measure that he once himself voted for,” O’Malley said. “But he’s not at all ever troubled by his inherent contradictions, and he never saw two sides of an issue that he couldn’t be simultaneously in favor of.”

Franchot is on the steering committee of Marylanders United to Stop Slots, a nonprofit coalition that kicked off a grassroots campaign Wednesday to defeat a November referendum on legalizing 15,000 slot machines at five locations in Baltimore and Allegany, Anne Arundel, Cecil and Worcester counties.

 

A former Montgomery County state delegate, Franchot supported a constitutional amendment in 2001 to fund public education through slot machines, with a provision that would prohibit an expansion into casinos.

Wednesday, he called O’Malley’s remarks unfortunate.

“I don’t think there has been a more consistent opponent to slots in the last seven years than myself,” he said.

The governor said slot machines are essential to balancing the state’s budget, potentially generating $800 million in annual tax revenue.

He …

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