After the Maryland General Assembly's 11th-hour amendment to the state gaming law that would allow veterans' halls to have electronic gaming machines, a representative from the Towson American Legion Post 22 said the organization needs to mull over the bill's consequences before deciding whether it wants to house slots in the local hall.
"As individuals up there at the post, we've all just become aware of it," said Ken Wetzel, first vice commander of Towson Post 22, last week. "We've all been exposed to it today ... but we've had no time to digest it or discuss our thoughts on it."
Wetzel said that the group meets once a month, and will look at the legislation and evaluate its impact on their post at that point.
Jim Rebbert, the post's commander, said in an email to the Towson Times that, "allowing a certain number of gaming machines in certified veteran's organizations would allow many of the smaller posts survive and continue to 'still serve America.'"
He did, however, express hope that the veterans weren't simply used as a sympathetic group to get the vote passed.
The legislation allows the machines in veterans' organizations in every county except Montgomery as part of an amendment to Gov. Martin O'Malley's bill that would also provide tax breaks for casino owners, allow table games in Maryland casinos and permit the state's sixth casino to be constructed in Prince George's County.
The measure was appproved, 32-14, in the Senate, and 71-58 in the House of Delegates, and was signed by O'Malley the next day.
The main aspects of the legislation — the sixth casino and table games — need to be approved by voters, and will be the subject of a referendum on the November ballot.
However, the provision to allow slots-like machines at veterans halls is not subject to voter approval.
According to The Baltimore Sun, Del. Eric Luedtke, a Montgomery County Democrat, said an organization could take in $360,000 a year from the machines.
The machines are similar in appearance to slot machines at the state's casinos. But their internal mechanics are slightly different. Winners and losers are predetermined by a printed roll of tickets inside the terminal.
Only one legislator from District 42, which represents Towson, voted for the bill. Del. Steve Lafferty voted in favor of the measure, while state Sen. Jim Brochin and Dels. Bill Frank and Susan Aumann voted against the legislation.
Senate roll call for gambling bill
The state Senate voted 32-14 to approve a bill that allows a sixth casino in Maryland and table games at all six. The measure will go before voters in November. Here's how Baltimore County senators voted.
Voting Yea - 32
Getty, Joseph (R-Dist. 5)
Jennings, J. B. (R-Dist. 7)
Kasemeyer, Edward (D-Dist. 12)
Stone, Norman (D-Dist. 6)
Zirkin, Robert A. (D-Dist. 11)