Pounding home the main point that there’s no guarantee local jobs will be created or the money will go to education, the advocacy group against Question 7 released a pair of advertisements late last week. The first is dubbed ‘Not Really’ and the second ‘Blatantly.’
It will be interesting to find out where the money to finance these ads is coming from (the Sun story used in the latter commercial points to Penn National, which owns the Hollywood Casino in Perryville) as my presumption would be that both the education and construction unions are bankrolling the pro-Question 7 effort with an assist from MGM, the gambling concern who would build the new National Harbor casino.
The Sun op-ed also notes:
In reality, Question 7 is a massive giveaway to the casino owners at the public expense. It guarantees steep tax cuts for most of the state’s casinos and allows the possibility for even greater reductions in the future. The Department of Legislative Services estimates that the casino owners stand to reap a $525 million windfall if Question 7 passes.
I know, it’s hard to believe that Democrats voted for a tax cut but that change in direction is tempered by the fact Democrats don’t necessarily mind using the tax code to regulate behavior. If Question 7 is approved, you could actually give more to the state’s education fund by playing (and losing) at certain casinos rather than others, and give less to the state by losing at table games – which would have a 20 percent tax rate – than video slots. (See page 51 of the bill.)
In all honesty, my opposition to Question 7 isn’t based on a prudish desire to eliminate gambling, but that the Maryland General Assembly be forced to do its job and not punt the specifics of the issue to voters. As I’ve said before, all they really had to do was amend the Constitution (more specifically Article III, Section 36) to allow casino-style gambling in addition to lotteries. Just repeal Article XIX and substitute appropriate language in Article III, and let the General Assembly have at it. They would likely pull all the same tricks anyway, but they themselves would be accountable to voters for this and all their other actions; meanwhile, they could be more adept at changing rules for a fast-moving industry.