Look, regular readers know I generally don’t cover political topics – trust me, I have very strong political views – but other people do it better than me. But, as a resident of Maryland, I have to admit I feel it my duty to really consider Question 7 before the election in November. By now, anyone who lives locally in DC has seen any one of the innumerable TV ads on whether or not to vote for opening casinos in Prince George’s County. I asked Mr. Wired Momma just last night what he thought and he still was undecided.
So I decided to poke around. As a person who quite enjoys having an opinion and who certainly takes voting, and making informed choices, very seriously – I decided it was my civic duty to look into this issue. Even if you’re not a Maryland resident, I still think this is an important topic because you never know when the issue will pop up in your community. Or perhaps there are other local issues on the ballot in your community that you maybe need to spend more time reading up on but keep putting it off, sorta like I was doing with Question 7.
To give you some background, from my understanding, the crux of this issue playing out on TV is whether or not to Vote Yes to Question 7 allowing gambling in PG County. The advocates claim we should all vote in favor because it will channel more money into public education in Maryland. The opponents claim this isn’t true. From my reading, it seems Maryland residents in 2008 voted in favor of slot machine gambling to support public education and the Education Trust Fund was created.
So this is super, right?
Well, it’s also lobbying and government friends, so pulling back the curtain a little bit more, it seems that because of economic realities today, and the inevitable state deficit, funds in the Education Trust Fund can actually be dispersed beyond just education – which is precisely what has been happening. And that, right there, is what the opponents of Question 7 are claiming will happen should the slots be approved in November for PG County. In fact, according to this article, “The State Comptroller Peter Franchot said claims that the expansion of gaming will generate more for education only appeal “to the altruism of voters who want to do the right thing” for kids, when it does nothing to bring in new dollars for education.”
Suddenly I started feeling less favorable towards Question 7. But then I also believe that the state needs the funds for other reasons, public safety, roads, and these items all better the lot of us. So even if the funds are diverted from education, is that such a bad thing?
Well, it depends on your feelings towards gambling and if you believe it actually benefits or harms a local community.
Naturally I dug further. Initially I started thinking it would be a good thing because it will create jobs for those who are building the casino, working the casino.
But what about the local businesses around them?
What about the restaurants in PG County that rely upon their local patrons who might be diverted to the casino because they can eat and gamble there? Is this akin to a big box retailer moving in and putting the smaller local businesses out of business? According to research out of the University of California, that is precisely what can happen. A classic example being Atlantic City, NJ where the casinos profit on the boardwalk but the rest of Atlantic City remains poor and boarded up with no real benefits to the local community.
So what will you do in November? I urge you to read up on this matter very carefully because like anything in politics, nothing is ever as simple as it appears on a TV ad. What do you think?