Casinos will be good for Baltimore

March 26, 1997

YOUR MARCH 14 editorial stating that the GBC report on gaming ignored the ''detrimental impact of casinos on (the) quality of life'' appears to have ignored a major portion of the report dealing with the social consequences of gaming.

The GBC actually commissioned two studies: one to examine the economic impact of various gaming options and one by Dr. Peter Reuter (who, incidentally, was the executive director of the Tydings Commission mentioned in your editorial) to look at the potential social costs associated with gaming.

Regarding the issue of social impact of gaming, Dr. Reuter reports that casinos have had ''quite modest'' effects on the social problems of cities where they have been introduced in recent years and where, like Baltimore, casinos would not be the dominant industry. In fact, casinos improve the employment opportunities for low-skill workers. The pay and conditions are relatively attractive, and the result may be that crime is actually reduced by the employment opportunities.

In Atlantic City, casinos are the dominant industry. What happened in a small locale of 37,000 residents that adopted a huge gaming industry is not analogous to a major city, like Baltimore of 720,000 residents, contemplating the establishment of a small number of casinos.

While we acknowledge that some existing jobs will be lost and some spending redirected, our report's estimated 12,000 new jobs and additional $400 million in tax revenue that would result from expanded gaming in Maryland already take that into account. Without the displacement factor, the estimated new jobs would be nearly 19,000.

In an environment where most of our neighboring states have or are considering gaming, the GBC undertook its examination to be sure that, in any consideration of gaming in Maryland, the best interests of the Baltimore region would be taken into account. We believe our report provides the critical basis on which to make that decision.

Donald P. Hutchinson

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Pub Date: 3/26/97

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