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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gambling Initiatives On The November Ballot - What's The Risk, What's The Price?

This November we will have an election. We will go to the polls to select someone to be our President for the next four years, we will pick our U.S. Representative, many will be voting for a U.S. Senator, some state governors will be chosen, many local political seats will be decided upon...and we will also be asked to vote for or against statewide or local initiatives. Sometimes it is these ballot measures that can impact our lives for years to come, either by what was approved or not, what program was funded or not, what tax was passed or not. This year a few states have ballot measures that deal with gambling.

States with ballot gambling initiatives

On October 6, 2012, a gambling website posted an update on which states will have ballot initiatives and which states failed to succeed in getting a gambling initiative on the ballot in 2012. Those states that for sure will have a gambling related initiative are:
  • Maryland ~ Question 7
  • Oregon ~ Measure 82 and Measure 83
  • Rhode Island ~ Question 1 and 2

A focus on Maryland

Maryland's Question 7 is known as the Gaming Expansion Referendum. Specifically it asks the voter if they are "for" or "against":

"Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education to authorize video lottery operation licensees to operate “table games” as defined by law; to increase from 15,000 to 16,500 the maximum number of video lottery terminals that may be operated in the State; and to increase from 5 to 6 the maximum number of video lottery operation licenses that may be awarded in the State and allow a video lottery facility to operate in Prince George’s County?"

Notice that the primary purpose is for raising revenue for education. This purpose type always pulls at the heartstrings of a voter. Who could vote against raising revenue for education? If you have school-aged children or grandchildren chances are you will vote for the referendum. Or if you are employed as a teacher, school administrator, or school employee, then chances are you want more funding for education. When you add these potential voters to those who might be able to find a new job in the building of a casino or working in a casino, then chances are you will vote for the referendum.

Here are few blogs/articles that discuss the Question 7 referendum:

A few final points...

On October 15, 2012, Petula Dvorak wrote a column for The Washington Post. Here are a few of her observations:
  • Based on statistics on the effect of the proximity of casinos within 50 miles of a person's neighborhood, Maryland could expect to have 60,000 people with gambling problems
  • To deal with this projection there is a new Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling based at the University of Maryland's School of Medicine. This center opened with a $5 million grant from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Do you have a problem with gambling? Do you have a loved one who has a gambling addiction? How has it impacted your life? 
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