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Slots for schools not a gamble everyone...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Slots for schools not a gamble everyone wants to make

Why is it that politicians feel that we lack the ability to see how we are being led down the lpath of no return.

I remember when we were told that the piggyback tax was just a temporary solution to a problem that is still with us many years after its implementation.

The lottery and Lotto and all the other games of chance we can buy with the dream of winning millions was suppose to pay the bill for education in Maryland.

Now we are told we need slots to help pay for education. If we do not have slot machines at racetracks we will lose racing in Maryland.

Please talk to those who live near Dover Downs. They have seen what gambling has done for them. It has increased crime. Talk to New Orleans about their problems with gambling.

It has not been a boon to any of these areas. The only ones who really want this are those who will benefit financially. If allowed at the tracks, gambling parlors downtown would follow, and we know who would benefit from that -- hotel owners.

Believe me, I enjoy going to Atlantic City and losing my money as much as the next person. I just see what it has done to Atlantic City, and I don't want that for my city. Call me a not-in-my-backyard person, but Baltimore has enough crime and grime that cannot be controlled.

cation and not diverted to pet projects. Gambling hasn't solved our problems in the past, and it won't in the future. Gov. Parris N. Glendening is right on this one.

/# Lois Raimondi Munchel Baltimore

Yes, if for schools

Edward kBurns wrote one of the most eloquent grass-roots-oriented Oppinion* Commentary articles April 27, "Schoolchildren hurt by budget cut," I've read in The Sun in some time.

Through his article's song of sorrow, he makes a subtle case for raising education revenue by the proposed taxing of slot machines at the racetracks.

If through tamper-free legislation we can be guaranteed that funds from slot-machine assessments will be routed to our children's education and the support network we sorely need in our schools, then so be it.

In the face of rising parental abuse, dysfunctional households and the inability of our state government to recognize the need of children in its largest city, let us gamble on the building of our children's hearts, minds and souls rather than gamble to build bleachers, baselines and backstops.

I love Orioles baseball and Ravens football, but I love children more.

Craig Alan Leigh

Baltimore

'A giant siphn'

The casino gambling empire threatens to sink its greedy fingers into every corner of Maryland. Abundant documentation is available to show the folly of our permitting this.

In other states, where the corporate gambling triumph has already occurred, citizens know what a poor choice it has been and now realize the immense difficulty of reversing it.

In those states, many law-enforcement officials and ordinary people cannot imagine how we could support widespread casino gambling.

In Montana, for example, virtually every restaurant (including family restaurants) evolves into a mini-casino. Degradation of the community is an assured result.

Organized gambling ruins people and communities. Think of a giant siphon, sucking out our well-being directly into the pockets of greedy casino corporations, with token payoffs to properly subservient government entities.

Letting the casino economy enter under the guise of funding improved schools, and the like, is a cruel hoax.

Beware, Maryland, of self-serving arguments favoring the growth organized gambling.

David F. Thompson

Elkton

No gambling at all?

Just wondering...when will the governor abolish the Maryland State Lottery Agency?

McNair Taylor

Baltimore

Slots, and more

Although I favor legalized gambling in Maryland, I do not believe slot machines at state racetracks go far enough to benefit citizens.

Poverty is the primary cause of most of the city's social ills. Create meaningful jobs, and the conditions of the poor will improve.

A nonprofit casino industry, similar to those run by

Native-American tribes, could be the spur for an economic boom.

I would allow the casinos in Baltimore only in areas away from the family-oriented Inner Harbor. They would not be allowed to serve food (except light hors d'oeuvres) or free beverages. This would prevent them from establishing restaurants and bars.

Most importantly, they would be operated by community organizations, with the proceeds funneled back into neighborhoods.

A nonprofit gaming industry could empower many Baltimoreans

and elevate the city to a first-tier tourist destination. Every night, even in the middle of winter, downtown could be as active as if an Orioles game had just let out.

John Tully

Glen Burnie

No, to both questions

" Can slot machines rescue cash-strapped public schools?" is actually two separate and unrelated questions. The first is whether money, from any source, is really the answer to the problems of public education, and the second is whether gambling is truly a legitimate and desirable source of public funding for any purpose.

The answer to both is no.

Dave Reich

Timonium

Slots work in Delaware

Maybe I just don't get it. Legal gambling exists in Maryland, is big business and is here to stay. The state has horse racing, which pumps millions into the economy in addition to its gambling-generating revenues.

The lottery is the third-largest source of revenue for the state behind income taxes and sales taxes. Its games have been sold in nursing homes, at automatic vending machines and at traditional outlets for Lotto, scratch-off and match games.

For the state to say it is against slot machines at its racetracks is extremely shortsighted.

The state's horse racing industry will decline further because Delaware slot machines at its three tracks add over $70,000 per day to its winners' purses. The best trainers and horses will continue to migrate to where the money is.

People from Maryland are flocking to the neighboring states of Delaware and West Virginia to play the slots. Obviously the state is losing this source of revenue. The Sun ("Latest Delaware numbers," May 3) indicated that Delaware grossed more than $1 billion for the first three months of 1998 at its racetracks and is doubling the number of slot machines.

Unless the state is going to take the moral high road and ban lottery gambling altogether (South Carolina has done just that), it makes little economic sense not to allow slot machines at the racetracks in our state.

W. Michael Seganish

Towson

Kills, not cures, racing

The article from the New York Times News Service in The Sun May 26 "Appeal of the track slips behind slots, lotteries" on slot at racetracks is the best argument against the idea. Slots will kill, not cure, horse racing.

Of the $177 million gambled last year at Prairie Meadows, slots outran the horses, 2 1/2 to 1. As the proceeds from slots increases over the betting on horses, the inevitable result will be to add more slots to increase revenue.

Over time, the slots will become the tail that wags the horse. Why have that empty infield when there could be so many slots out there?

Once established as legitimate, more casinos will open in hotels, Inner Harbor boats, Western Maryland resorts and Ocean City will become an Atlantic City.

If horse racing is to be saved, it will not happen by bringing it competition.

If skyboxes can bring in football and baseball "fans," then surly racing officials can come up with a better idea than slots. A day at the races with slot machines is a great idea for a Marx Brothers movie.

eorge E. Brown

Baltimore

Casino nation

Since other states draw a significant portion of gamblers, Maryland loses revenue. But if slots become legal, the politicians will spend the income on pork.

I believe that gambling is an evil vice that is popular with the average person. I am concerned that the U.S. will become a gambling casino in the future.

Joseph Lerner

Baltimore

Noit for any programs

I wish to add my name to those who oppose the use of slot machine revenues for any state lprogram for the same reason that I oppose the legalization of slots. Government programs at any level should be financed by all citizens in accordance with their ability to pay. Using money derived from slot machines puts an unfair burden on those least able to pay.

ane S. Hart IV

Columbia

Lotto, Keno and slots

Why the objection to gambling? Maryland has Lotto, Keno, Powerball, Quick Cash and too many rub-off games operated by the state. Why not slots at the tracks?

It is logical. You do not have to build a new facility -- it's already at the racetrack and has ample parking. What an asset. Little cost to start up the operation.

It's too bad the leaders of our state can't see the forest for the trees. The proof lies in our neighboring state of Delaware, where the goose continues to lay the golden eggs.

I had an opportunity to visit Las Vegas. While there, we took a bus trip to tour Boulder Dam. The bus driver thanked all who visited Las Vegas and gambled. He said the revenue pays for the education of residents -- from nursery school through college. Also there is no property tax, and the infrastructure, facilities and expenses are paid.

Anthony J. Keydash

Baltimore

Vast slots conspiracy?

Thank you for posing this question related to slot machines as a salvation for cash-strapped public schools.

As a public affairs consultant, I see this as a manufactured issue during an election year by one lawyer, one publicly elected official and one special-interest group. And that special interest group is not necessarily composed of school folk.

Shame on the media in general for allowing this transparent conspiracy to become a dominant issue during our state's quadrennial campaign season.

oseph P. Foley

Potomac

People lose hope

I support Gov. Parris N. Glendening in his position on gambling: "No casinos. No slots. No exceptions." I oppose the expan sion of gambling in Maryland and strongly feel that gambling would be a detriment to the state.

Gambling causes people to lose hope in striving and working to improve their future and causes people to invest their financial resources in the hope of having a good return. Their investment will most likely end in financial loss producing damage to families. Higher crime rates accompany gambling establishments, and gambling can be addictive.

Proverbs 1: 18-19 states, "And they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives. So are the ways land to gambling would not be in the best interest of its citizens.

arah R. Wilcox

Elkridge

More of the same

About gambling, I say yes! Definitely yes. People like to gamble, they already do -- Lott, Pick Three, LPick Four, etc. The idea of having slots at our racetracks, creating millions of dollars for the future of Maryland racing plus creating millions of desperately needed dollars for our schools -- what a great trade-off.

The main concern -- that some people could become addicted to gambling -- is so naive. Should we close all the bars, clubs and restaurants that serve liquor because some people will become alcoholics? With liquor, none of the profits help upgrade and develop new methods to help our children grow, learn and compete and succeed in the 21st century, but slots would.

Esther Yaker

Baltimore

Harm to society

Anyone who has become addicted to gambling of any form, or anyone dependent on such a person, must realize that the potential of harm caused by gambling is great. Consequently, I am strongly opposed to gambling of any sort. Indeed, this issue is, in my view, more important even than party affiliation of a candidate for public office.

I realize that many consider denial of gambling via slots or other means to be wrongful restriction of individual choice. Such a view may be based on the assumption that individuals should have the right to harm or impoverish themselves.

This view might have some strength if the gambler were isolated from dependents and society. However, this is rarely true. Dependents are cut off from money for legitimate needs. Furthermore, the gambler and his dependents may eventually require support from society.

I appreciate what The Sun has done in researching and reporting matters important to me and others in the area.

William Osterhout

Clarksville

Responsible government

Responsible government does not promote gambling. The effect of introducing slots will be to tax Maryland's lower-income citizens.

This is not Las Vegas. The slot machine patrons will not be tourists migrating to our racetracks from out of state, but our own citizenry, and often those who can least afford it.

Using educational funding as a reason to legalize slots is very similar to the current excuse for state lotteries, the Maryland Stadium Authority.

Sure, the lottery benefits the authority, but the bulk of the profits of our state lotteries go to the general fund. Likewise, a small amount of the profits from slots may go to education, but the bulk of the slot machine profits won't. Will our taxes be lowered because slot machine profits subsidize education?

The education excuse is a smokescreen. Slot machines at racetracks today lead to casinos in downtown Baltimore tomorrow.

If you think that future is appealing, take a day trip to Atlantic City (but don't venture off the Boardwalk, for your own safety).

Is that what we want Baltimore to look like?

ric Shellhouse

Linthicum

Rude police officer marred trip

My husband received four free baseball tickets and a parking pass for the April 25 Orioles game against the Oakland A's. Our pass indicated that the parking lot was at Pratt and Eutaw streets, an area that is troublesome to get around in during a ballgame or any main event.

We found Pratt and Eutaw streets. There were two parking lots and a sign on half the entrance that said "Street Closed." Nobody was there to give us directions. We went into the parking lot slowly, looking for someone to give us some direction. As we were sitting there, a police officer started banging on our window.

My husband rolled the window down and very nasty and loud, the police officer asked, "Sir, did you see the sign?"

cer's tone, said he saw the sign and that our parking pass showed Pratt and Eutaw streets.

The officer used this terrible attitude while asking for our registration and then gave us a $70 ticket.

I told this officer that someone should fic on where to go.

We had two children in the van, both 10, who witnessed this police officer's rude behavior. Needless to say the expression on their faces showed how scared they were.

The sad thing about this is that we teach our children to trust and respect the police.

I did explain to these children that this officer's behavior was not appropriate at all and that he should have been nice and offered us assistance.

I also explained that all police officers were not like this and if they ever needed help not to be afraid to ask for it. I just have to say that I felt very intimidated by this officer. He made me feel like a criminal, and all we did was pull into an empty parking lot.

We did get into the right parking lot. The O's did win the game that day, and Cal Ripken did an excellent job on his 2,500th consecutive game.

Patricia Rockstroh

Baltimore

Pub Date: 5/16/98

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