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Maryland Our Maryland

June Smith
How about a third Special Session of the General Assembly to amend the lyrics of the State song, “Maryland, My Maryland”?  

Updating James Ryder Randall’s poem, written in 1861, that articulated his Confederate sympathies, that was adopted as the State song in 1939, to include “the expansion of gambling” in the line “Remember Carroll’ sacred trust” and “Howard’s warlike thrust” would articulate the sympathies of the Governor and State leaders for casino owners, the dedication to “slots for tots” for the children, and the honoring of veterans by giving veterans service organizations up to five electronic bingo machines in their halls.  

Sine Die should not die without proper tribute to the dedication and diligence of the Governor and leaders of the State for their special interest efforts and endeavors. They worked tirelessly for six days —save the hours spent toiling over pit bull bites—at thirty thousand dollars per day plus expenses and other expenditures.

Stacks of amendments to the gambling bill to add Blackjack to casinos, etc., piled high on Speaker Busch’s desk. So many trees died for so little…  Photo Credit: Robert Lang, WBAL

And so it ‘twas in the wee hours of the morning that the bill came to pass and the issue of a sixth casino and table games being put on the ballot in November came to be.

Thanks to those in public service for the betterment of Maryland who supported the bill, nearly $200 million will be added annually to the State’s revenue, starting in July, 2018 and thousands of construction and permanent jobs will be created.

Worry not, yea fine citizens, about the tax rate “reductions” for casino operators; their personal property tax exemption for equipment in their facilities; the increase in revenue percentage for Maryland Live! and its opportunity for an additional increase to come from approval of a new commission, along with an equal opportunity for Baltimore; or all the other deals cut and dastardly deeds done.

Put aside the thoughts of the 6.8 percent State unemployment rate; the recent increases in income, flush, and tobacco taxes; the broken education system; blackjack odds and the house advantage; and that “the prevalence of problem/pathological gambling in Maryland is 3.4%” (source: UMBC Gambling Prevalence in Maryland: A Baseline Analysis, Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis & Research; May 2011; www.umbc.edu/mipar).

Consider the 24/7 fun and excitement at casinos, video lottery terminals, and table games—all for the benefit of the children and veterans.

More importantly, consider that it has come to this: a special session for gambling.

Truly, that doth deserve remembering. Not perhaps fondly, but worth remembering nonetheless.

June Smith is the widow of Ron Smith, WBAL Talk Show Host, Emmy® Award winner, and Baltimore Sun columnist, who was a media titan in Maryland area and beyond for almost forty years. Her tribute website, founded in his memory, is www.friendsofronsmith.com. She is working diligently to raise one million dollars for the Ron Smith Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Johns Hopkins. Her email is june@friendsofronsmith.com.






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