Isn't it obvious to local officials that commercial and charity gambling is more trouble than it's worth? Look at the illegal payments to big-time professional gamers in Prince George's County and the alleged ties to organized crime in Anne Arundel County. Now a slew of Prince George's charities are on the hook for close to $1 million in back taxes. Some have paid up. Others are threatening legal action because they contend these casino-night proceeds are charitable funds that cannot be taxed.
This is only the latest in a continuing parade of evidence that legalized gambling is a spectacularly bad idea. In Prince George's, professional gaming operators have turned a benign fund-raising activity into a slick activity generating, by some estimates, close to $20 million a year. These operators take over, vastly increase the volume of games and skim most of the proceeds. The charity takes its cut and looks the other way. This convenient but illegal set-up is an open invitation to organized crime.
Legislators all over the state have tried to rein-in charity gambling for years with little success. The charities argue, convincingly, that the money supports necessary good works. The general public sees nothing wrong with a little fund-raising.