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The Baltimore Sun

Slots shift burden to backs of poor

I read with drop-jawed astonishment that both Mayor Sheila Dixon and City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake have lent their support to the special-interest fiasco that is the slots referendum ("Dixon supports slots," Oct. 11). Their argument? That slots revenues will allow the city to reduce property taxes.

That sounds reasonable enough. But we already know that slots, like the lottery, prey on poorer communities. Study after study shows that the average education level and average per capita income of the most dedicated slots players are far below those of the average Marylander.

The irony here is that these are also the people who stand to benefit least from a reduction in property tax rates.

Who pays the most in property taxes? Precisely those least likely to spend even a single quarter at the slots.

Slots could be another case of tax reductions for the wealthy being funded by the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society.

City tax rates may need to come down, but shifting that property tax burden onto Baltimore's poor is unconscionable.

Charlie Metz, Baltimore

Keep Md. money right here at home

I am an angry Maryland taxpayer. I have been angry ever since the casinos opened in Atlantic City, and Maryland taxpayers flocked to them, thereby helping New Jersey's taxpayers ("The pros and cons of slots," Oct. 12).

My anger has only increased as racinos have opened in Delaware, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. I see our Maryland tax money flowing up the Interstates to help those other states' taxpayers. Ouch.

I do not buy the theory that having slots here would create more gambling problems.

There are two types of gamblers. The casino gamblers already go up the Interstates to the casinos in other states. Poor folks play the lottery scratch-offs when they have a few dollars; they don't have enough money to spend in casinos.

I'm getting sick and tired of seeing us supporting other states' taxpayers. So now let's protect Maryland's tax money.

Harry E. Bennett Jr., Baltimore

State's civic virtue isn't up for sale

Pandering in the form of solicitation for prostitution has long been known as a vice that follows legalized gambling. It is surprising, however, that in the case of legalizing slots in Maryland, the solicitation has begun before the first vote to legalize slots has been cast.

Magna Entertainment Corp., in cahoots with the racing industry and other gambling companies, is playing the role of a "john" that is willing to pay a high price ($3.8 million so far) to have its way with the diminishing discretionary monies available to average citizens of the state of Maryland ("Slots supporters have the cash to back their cause," Oct. 11).

It is disingenuous for Steve Kearney, an adviser to the ballot committee, to assert that his group is spending such massive resources "to correct misinformation" put out by slots opponents. We are not so easily fooled.

I sincerely hope that our state and local officials do not sell our communities to these interests for the promise of increased revenues.

The debate is, indeed, one between "economic interests on one side and ... values and moral concerns on the other."

But Marylanders have always been a people of values and morals who nevertheless have managed to create the wealthiest state economy in the nation - without slot machines.

The callously misleading and expensive marketing blitz under way by the gaming industry suggests that everybody has his or her price. But not when it comes to the civic virtue and moral fiber of the citizens of Maryland. We are priceless.

Teddy M. Smith, Baltimore

The writer is a volunteer for Marylanders United to Stop Slots.

Biden's blunders draw little response

So now The Baltimore Sun is publishing letters making sport of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's smile ("Very little substance behind Palin's smile," Oct. 10). This must be some of that "Light for All" the paper promises.

Those who wring their hands over Mrs. Palin's "substance" should ponder the following: If she had spoken any of the stupid remarks recently uttered by Sen. Joe Biden, she would have been driven off the ticket amid howls of ridicule.

Ken Ironside, Baltimore

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