1:32 PM EDT, September 27, 2011
In the year since the Hollywood Casino opened in Perryville, the action has been hot: a gross take by Penn National Gaming of $101 million.
Other big winners have been the likes of the treasuries of Cecil County and the State of Maryland, which are dividing up $70 million. Of that total, a relatively small proportion can be expected to find its way to Harford County. The state's education trust fund is going to get 48 percent of the total, and presumably a portion of that will end up in Harford County Public Schools. And there's a portion set aside for the state's horse racing industry, mainly to increase purse values for Maryland races and make improvements to the state's horse tracks. Presumably Harford's substantial horse farming economy will benefit from this aspect of the slot machines that are just across the Susquehanna River.
By contrast, in addition to being a relatively similar beneficiary in terms of schools and horse racing as Harford County, Cecil County is in the enviable position of figuring out how to spend nearly $6 million it took in because of the casino. To date, the county, and the Town of Perryville have been locking antlers over what the town is entitled to. Eventually, though this will be worked out and presumably both the town and county will have revenue that won't have to come from property or income taxes.
Unfortunately, for Harford County, there's no such dispute because there's no money to fight over, and that's not just the result of bad luck. Harford County was kept out of the running as a potential casino site back during the legislative process, and those of us who live on this side of the river can expect to pay for that decision for years to come.