As the House of Delegates barely passes the backroom deal cobbled together to expand gambling, let us review why this whole process is bad for Maryland and, as similar legislation has done in the past, will cause more problems then it solves.
The House GOP months ago noted the inherent problems with trying to solve this faux crisis with a special session. They stated
“The arrogance of this process is just nauseating”, said O’Donnell. “The notion that this Governor would strike some backroom deal with MGM and Prince George’s County Senator Mike Miller is quite astounding. We find no redeeming qualities to this back room deal or to some of its principles. Offering these special interests a lower tax rate and no competitive bidding for a new location and then turning those same interests loose to hound the General Assembly sounds more like something out of a Mario Puzo novel than what should be the transparent operation of government. Regardless of how you feel about expanding gambling, this aberrant and low-brow behavior does not pass the smell test.”
Before the special session began, I noted the reasons why Republicans should oppose this entire process and any legislation produced by it and I noted how the special interests supporting this legislation were working hard (and now we know successfully) to create dissension in GOP ranks to fulfill the Governor’s desire to mollify not only Senate President Mike Miller but the gambling interests he needs to fund his national ambitions.
The issue has nothing to do, in my view, with an opposition to gambling in National Harbor or anywhere else. My libertarian friends, even though they have no political or moral opposition to gambling, must oppose the obvious crony capitalism and corrosive corrupting influences inherent in Maryland’s gambling scheme.
Of course, none of this is a surprise to those of us who are aware of the history of gambling in this state. We have been down this road before.
No good either for process or policy will come from the legislation being proposed in this special session. Let’s have a discussion about gambling but let us have it in an open, deliberative process where the special interests on all sides are disclosed publicly and which does not produce something “out of a Mario Puzo novel.”