Beware of gambling's easy money GBC report: Business group ignores detrimental impact of casinos on quality of life.

March 14, 1997

IT WOULD BE great to create 12,000 jobs in Baltimore and Maryland -- and add $400 million to state and city treasuries. But at what cost? That is the crucial question the Greater Baltimore ++ Committee failed to answer in its recent report on casino gambling.

Two years ago, the Tydings Commission studied this same issue in depth. It was handed divergent reports showing casinos could generate as many as 20,000 jobs or lead to the loss of as many as 12,000 jobs at restaurants, bars and race tracks. The panel's executive director concluded that introducing casinos to Maryland "would probably be a wash." No net gain.

In the end, though, the Tydings Commission voted 7-0 to oppose casinos. Why? Because of the highly negative impact they would have on Maryland communities. It would definitely lower the quality of life here.

Crime is sure to rise, as Attorney General J. Joseph Curran has noted. Atlantic City became No. 1 in the nation in per capita crime three years after casinos opened; criminal incidents tripled, with larcenies, robberies and assaults leading the way. Narcotics trafficking and prostitution rose dramatically. In New Orleans and in Atlantic City, organized crime mobs moved in and corrupted labor unions as well as state and local politicians, including the governor, mayor, city council and police officials.

Gambling addiction is sure to surge. In Iowa, addicts tripled after the introduction of casinos. In a city the size of Baltimore, casinos would immediately lure drug kingpins, money launderers and other unsavory sorts.

Even the GBC admits that 6,600 jobs and a half-billion dollars in retail revenue could be lost as casinos siphon off business from existing restaurants, bars, hotels and stores.

Is that the kind of community we want? Is that what Baltimore's corporate leaders desire for this city and state? How many companies would opt to relocate here knowing of the town's wide-open commitment to gambling?

The lure of easy money and jobs should be resisted. The price is far too high.

Pub Date: 3/14/97

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