Screwing the Pooch

The Anne Arundel County Council approved the zoning change that will allow slot machines at Arundel Mills Mall tonight. This is, of course, a completely ridiculous zoning change that will allow a slot machine parlor to be constructed in an area of the county that not only doesn’t want slots, but also has enough problems with crime at Arundel Mills itself to deal with without the construction of a new, larger magnet for petty crime.

The bigger context of this story, however, is once again how badly Governor O’Malley and Maryland Democrats screwed up when they approved the Constitutional change that allowed for slot machines in the first place.

The County Council was basically pressured into allowing slot machines at Arundel Mills. There is no way around it. Pressure was coming from the Governor’s office, from Legislative leaders, from County Executive John Leopold (once he decided that he was for slots after opposing them for so many years).

But why was so much pressure exerted on the County Council? It wasn’t because Arundel Mills was the optimal location for slot machines, particularly in light of the fact that one of the ostensible reasons slots became part of the conversation was to save horse racing. No, the real reason the Council was pressured into the Arundel Mills site is because of the boneheaded decision to allow slot parlors in Anne Arundel County only within two miles on either side of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Had the Arundel Mills site failed, then no slots parlor in Anne Arundel County would have been able to open without the adoption of another Constitutional Amendment changing the location requirement (one of the many reasons that I was against the amendment despite being pro-gambling).

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Now Marylanders, and particularly those folks in the Hanover/Jessup area, are stuck with a slots parlor nobody wants because Governor O’Malley and General Assembly leaders didn’t have the moxie to adopt a slots bill on their own without passing the buck on to the voters of Maryland. What a sad, sad display showing the ramifications of leaders who take no responsibility.

The irony of course; table gaming is coming to Charles Town, probably rendering a lot of this conversation moot and sending a lot of Maryland’s gambling dollars to West Virginia….


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