The Cordish Co. is really working hard to attract votes on Question A in the Anne Arundel county during the upcoming General Election, including offering "perks like VIP parking, priority seating at restaurants associated with the casino, access to special events there and possibly investment opportunities" to selected businesses in the county, according to the Gazette newspaper. To get these extras, company leaders need only use their influence with their employees to help get Question A passed.
This kind of attempt to secure votes is just another reason to make me wonder why Maryland, much less Anne Arundel County, really needs a "world-class" gaming facility. Even so, I see the need for the slots income (or is it just tax by another name?) to the state and county budgets.
After the barrage of advertising about how much money is going to flow from the proposed casino at Arundel Mills Mall, I recently searched on-line so I could read for myself the change to the Maryland constitution that allows slots to return to our state, and also the proposed change to Anne Arundel zoning laws. The Cordish Cos. would have us believe that if Question A is now voted down, there will be no slots in Anne Arundel. Not necessarily. I believe that after a successful vote against Question A, a company or companies will quickly put together a deal for a different location, maybe even at the race track which many, many of us were lead to believe was the object of the exercise in the first place.
No matter where it is built in the county, there will be jobs created in Anne Arundel.
Stop worrying about the Maryland money (that has long been) going to casinos in West Virginia, just as people have stopped worrying about the casinos in Delaware now that the Perryville casino is in operation.
A main issue really is location, location, location. The mall location has many negative factors, including the impact on traffic, which is already difficult to navigate in the area. Have you tried to survive the lane switching near and around the mall lately? I recently made a very rare trip to the mall on a Saturday and used the exit from Route 100. It was the same as months before, with traffic cones being used to again alter the pattern at a main intersection, forcing cars into an already overcrowded parking lot. This is, I believe, the intersection that is said to be expected to be the main one off Route 100. Probably some of the casino-related funds would be used to permanently alter the flow?
I still have my copy of The Baltimore Sun front page article (February 5, 2009) with a picture of the mall parking lot with the Anne Arundel Community College building in the background that purports to show where the new casino would be located. Adjacent to the mall and to the college facility. At that time, it was only going to be a "regional attraction." Parking for college students in the evening is already crowded.
My reading of the state constitution change, and of a Gazette front page article of September 25, indicates some confusion over the infusion of slots funds to education, and other fields. The law says that of the revenues, a minimum of 48.5 percent will go to the Education Trust Fund, and 5.5 percent will go to local impact grants. The article notes that "it is yet to be seen whether the money from slots is used to supplement or supplant money already put aside for education. Depending on broader economic conditions, the slots money could be a treadmill instead of an escalator."
I certainly have not heard any politicians or budgeters make any commitments to use the slots funds as extra monies for the education funds, that is, not cut the general budget by a like amount instead of spending it on other needs, or maybe not spend it at all to help reduce the deficit. The same for the local impact grants. If they are not used as extra money, then it is a wash for budget purpose.
I'm voting against Question A, but would vote for a different location other than the mall.
Ron Looper, Severn