The governor continues to push slot machines as the solution to Maryland’s economic ills. His bills have proposed putting 3,500 slot machines at Pimlico Race Course, in the middle of residential Northwest Baltimore.
The impact on our communities could be overwhelming. 3,500 slot machines could mean thousands more cars on our streets each day, with terrible disruption of our neighborhoods, and not just for a few weeks a year. The race track consultants claim that all casino visitors will only use I-83 to Northern Parkway or Liberty Heights to Northern Parkway and then take Northern Parkway to the race track. Even if I-83 could handle the extra traffic (which it canĂt), we know that many people will use Reisterstown Road, Park Heights, and Pimlico Road–right through our neighborhoods.
As a specialist in Addiction Medicine, I have another and broader objection to thousands of slots machines in our city. It is important to understand that the immediacy of the response in slot machine gambling makes it very different from other forms of gambling in our state, such as lottery and horse racing; for it is the immediacy of the response that gives a stimulating behavior or chemical much of its addictive potential.
In fact, because of this, treatment professionals in the field of compulsive gambling have expressed special concern about the dangers related to slot machines and refer to them as “the crack cocaine of gambling”. Just as crack cocaine has shortened the length of time between first use of cocaine and actual addiction, so too have slot machines reduced the length of time between first wager and pathological gambling.
In this context, it is of special concern that the governor proposes to put a concentration of thousands of slot machines in Baltimore City, because combining strong addictive potential with easy access creates and especially dangerous situation.
If they are to be put in the state of Maryland, slots emporiums do not belong in an urban center, where they pose the greatest risk to the greatest number of people.
No, slot machines do not “make” money. They take money. And the money they take, whether the disposable income of casual gamblers or the essential money of compulsive or pathological gamblers, is no longer available to spend at restaurants, movies, taverns, or dollar stores. Thus, they drain money from the community and can result in lost business and store closings.
Nor are slot machines an ˘alternative to taxes÷. They are, in fact, an ˘alternative tax÷ on lower middle income people who tend to use them in an attempt to catch up economically.
Finally, note that the majority owner of Pimlico Race Course is Magna Corporation, a company from Canada; and that in the bills presented so far, the wealthier counties have been exempted from the location of slots emporiums. That means that profits from the slot machines will go to Canada (from the owner’s share); and that money that actually does go to the schools will go not only to Baltimore City Schools, but also to the schools in the wealthy counties of the state. That means that Baltimore City will end up subsidizing the wealthier counties.
At a time like this, when our city and our community are threatened in these various ways, what does the incumbent Democratic councilwoman do ? She does everything she can to help get the slot machines into Pimlico. She has introduced and pushed through the zoning changes and the planning changes that are necessary to get slot machines into Pimlico.
DOES SHE REPRESENT YOU ?
November 2, vote for change:
Elect TERRENCE FITZGERALD, M.D. Baltimore Green Party candidate
for City Council, District 5