The following editorial appeared in other zoned editions of The Baltimore Sun last week:
Anne Arundel County
* Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall wants a tax on instant bingo, and the state General Assembly ought to give it to him.
Frankly, we've never understood why instant bingo is tax-free when not-so-instant bingo is subject to the local amusement tax. The attorney general's office says the scratch-off bingo cards are not a "game," that they're more like lottery tickets, which are not subject to the amusement tax. But there's a big difference between these instant bingo cards and lottery tickets. Lottery tickets are available at convenience stores, but you can't buy an instant bingo card unless you go to a for-profit bingo parlor, where bingo is played.
Also, the corner 7-Eleven does not qualify as an amusement center, but a bingo parlor in Anne Arundel certainly does. It makes sense that if you're patronizing an amusement facility -- whether you're playing regular bingo or scratching off the numbers on an instant card -- that you should pay an amusement tax.
Some lawmakers are worried about how the county would collect such a tax, but it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure that out. The tax should be collected at the point of sale, just like a sales tax.
The bingo tax would add several hundred thousand dollars to county coffers annually, but that's not the main point. A tax ought to be applied equitably. Instant bingo and regular bingo are both games, and you have to go to the same game hall to play them. If one is taxed, the other should be, too.