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Slot Machine Gambling Just Will Not Die

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on July 24, 2004:

Senator Dyson I have been opposed to expanded slot machine gambling in Maryland ever since the idea was brought up in Annapolis. I believe it sets terrible social policy for Maryland. But that’s my opinion. Others see slots as a dependable revenue source and want them in Maryland. Others agree with me. On this issue, I have agreed to disagree with slots proponents.

That being said, it has been reported that there seems to be a considerable movement afoot in Annapolis to put the issue of slot machine gambling on the ballot for the November election in the form of a referendum.

I wish this idea had been adopted in the 2003 General Assembly Session when I introduced the first of 19 amendments to Senate Bill 322 -- the disingenuously titled “Public Education Bridge to Excellence -- Funding --Video Lottery Terminals.”

My amendment -- which was defeated -- would have required the General Assembly to pass a Constitutional Amendment which would have put the vote on slot machines to a referendum. Since this is such an important, violatle issue, I believe the voters’ wishes on matters of such social significance should be heard.

Expanded slot machine gambling is one of these issues that shouldn’t be decided by 188 men and women in the General Assembly. The people should decide this issue.

Many polls have shown support for slots in Maryland. But polls only reflect voters’ attitudes at the moment and the questions in these polls are often loaded and easy to misinterpret. Plus, they are not a reliable indicator of public opinion since so few people participate in the process.

The governor has said the 2002 election was a referendum on slots. It was not. It was a decision people made about who they thought was best to run the state. Governor Ehrlich won by a slim margin over then Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Quite frankly, I believe the governor is selling himself and the people who worked on his campaign short by saying the election was a referendum on slots and not about him.

Many people have expressed both support and opposition to slots. It is a very devisive issue to say the least. That is why, while I personally do not support slots, I believe all voters should have a say on this issue. With a very close presidential election expected, voter turnout in this year’s election will be extremely high. This is the best opportunity to let voters decide on this issue once and for all.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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