One of the selling points proponents of Question 7 have tried to stress is job creation, claiming that 12,000 positions in the areas of constructing the new facility, working inside, and tourism in general would open up once the issue is passed.
But a serious question has been raised on the construction job aspect: who will get them? It’s a question posited on a mailer I obtained yesterday.
If you’ll notice in the first box on the back side (the second page of the .pdf file), there’s a question as to who can actually take these jobs. Quoting from the mailer:
Given that developers will operate under a ‘Project Labor Agreement’ that limits who can be employed during construction, most able-bodied Maryland workers will never even have a shot at getting a job there.
In other words, non-union contractors need not apply. Is it any wonder it was the building trades union who sent me a letter to convince me to support the measure passing the Special Session? (They dropped a lot of money on that effort, according to the Baltimore Sun.) The most cynical among us might do the math: more union jobs = more union dues = more money into Democrats’ coffers.
And then we have the promise of permanent jobs. Certainly there will be jobs to be had at a new facility, as it will host its share of service workers to maintain the video slots, run the table games, and serve food and drinks. Yet there’s a legitimate concern about jobs being lost in other nearby gaming venues such as Maryland Live! in Anne Arundel County. The opening of Maryland Live! has already prompted the management of the Hollywood Casino in Perryville to ask for the removal of 400 slots so their facility doesn’t look too empty and unused.
While the National Harbor facility may draw some business away from the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, West Virginia and perhaps entice a few gamblers up from Virginia and out of Washington, D.C., the net effect on Maryland’s existing facilities is likely to be detrimental as the overall gaming participation growth is only predicted at 1 to 2 percent. Adding more Maryland facilities will shrink the pie for existing casinos more than it would add to the market, and as business declines elsewhere facilities like Maryland Live!, the Perryville Hollywood Casino, and Ocean Downs will have no choice but to shed jobs.
And let’s talk money. Oddly enough, arriving in my mailbox yesterday was another mailer which pointed out an obvious flaw covered in several other venues: money spent by gamblers in the hope of garnering a better education for our crumb-crunchers is really only replacing what’s already taken out of the general fund. So the net effect of Maryland’s education system may well be zero.
Yet the Diamondback piece also has some interesting quotes from Comptroller Peter Franchot, who chastises his fellow Democrats for hopping aboard the gambling train:
It’s a sad exercise to watch Democrats approve gambling, which everyone knows is a regressive tax. [Gaming] is a predatory industry.
It’s also likely to be another failed effort in a state which tried and failed to enact punitive taxes on millionaires, who simply laughed and moved to a state with lower taxes. Unfortunately, poor people – who are already stuck with underperforming schools which won’t see any true benefit from the money they’re wishing away – don’t readily have as many options aside from not gambling at all. And who’s going to pass up the allure of easy money?
If only they could get more benefit from the money being spent on passing or killing Question 7.