We're talking about this during the second hour of my radio show today. Do you think this is a good idea for Baltimore? We have heard -- on the air and by e-mail -- from people who live in the suburbs and exurbs of Maryland that they think slots is a good idea for the state -- and obviously a lot of voters agree with that -- but what of putting one in the city?
We would particularly like to hear from Baltimoreans.
Is there going to be a fight over this, or have slots opponents given up and is Baltimore going to have a casino without the kind of community brawls they're seeing in Philadelphia?
MIDDAY WITH DAN RODRICKS
From a previous blog post:
The mayor of Baltimore, Sheila Dixon, and the former mayor, Gov. Martin O'Malley, seem to have no shame about establishing a casino in Baltimore with slot machines, knowing full well that a disproportionate number of the city's poorest citizens are likely to waste their money there, particularly if we're still in a recession as the slots get up and running.
The slots, like the state lotteries before them, constitute a de facto tax on low-income people, and to put slots in the Maryland city with the highest concentration of poverty to balance the books for the fourth-wealthiest state in the country is stunningly reprehensible.
This has to be one of the most cynical moves ever by politicians in this city and state. There is no question that Maryland's poor and minority communities are likely to bear the heaviest burden when it comes to slots. They already do with other forms of state-sponsored gambling here.
Low-income people play the lottery -- and many of them voted last Tuesday to allow slots -- because they believe that it could be their ticket out of poverty.
Tina, a listener to my Midday show, wrote an e-mail yesterday wondering why all this outrage.
"Am I missing some compelling data that shows that poor people are more likely to go to slots/casinos than non-poor people?" she asked. "Not sure why Dan is so afraid that poor people of Baltimore City will be unable to resist the siren call of the slots at a higher rate than any other group of people, and why that means we shouldn't put a slots parlor in Baltimore."
Tina lives in Lauraville -- not one of the areas designated for a slots parlor -- and she has missed the news -- repeated countless times over the 40 or so years there have been state lotteries -- that lotteries and slots are regressive de facto taxes on the poor. Study after study, many of them by newspapers, have shown that low-income adults spend more money on lotteries, as a percentage of their income, than do middle-class or affluent Americans.
Years ago, a Duke University study found that 5 percent of lottery players account for 50 percent of ticket sales. The states count on these players, and most often they are people who can least afford to play a game that they are structured to lose.