Having a stake in slots debate

October 30, 2007|By SUSAN REIMER

An open letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley, Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

Gentlemen,

I am writing to ask you to please table any discussion of introducing slot machines to Maryland as a way of solving your current budget problems.

Not because slots are a cold-blooded tax on the poor and the hopeless, which they are.

Not because solving your money problems this way is the governmental equivalent of signing up for yet another credit card, which it is.

And not because slots will benefit a few rich men to a sinful degree, which they will.

No. I am asking you to keep slots out of Maryland because if you don't, I am going to have to have my husband fitted with a satellite tracking device.

It is a mixed blessing, but I am married to a man who thinks he is good at video poker, and he has the dollar bills in his wallet to prove it.

He once returned from a reporting trip to Las Vegas on a red-eye flight and woke me from a sound sleep by sprinkling $100 bills on me. "Buy yourself something pretty," he said.

The man is such a good provider that when my 10-year-old van required yet another round of massive repairs, he drove through the dark and the rain to Delaware Park and brought back $750.

He once won $1,000 by playing just a few hands at an airport before taking the flight home from another assignment, making up his casino losses, and then some.

I have been tempted to include his winning skills when calculating the monthly food budget. But I haven't yet because I know that Luck is not always a Lady, and this can't continue. Indeed, we are in a bit of a dry spell, if you know what I mean.

Right now, my husband has to be sent on business to Las Vegas or up Interstate 95 to do any gambling. Both are a bit out of the way for a guy with a demanding job and an already tiresome commute.

You put slots in Anne Arundel County, as has been proposed, and I might have to start checking his odometer.

I don't know how much he has lost playing video poker. The money comes from a secret slush fund he keeps to balance out what I spend on mulch and kitchen tools. (It is only fair. For me, plants and dinner are often a crap shoot.)

He plays with quarters and, so far, he hasn't cashed in his retirement fund or blown out any credit cards. But I don't know what would happen if he could play a slot machine at the local 7-Eleven every time I send him out for milk.

And don't kid me or yourselves. You can say you are only letting slots into Maryland on a limited basis, but you said that about the lottery, too, and now there is Keno and a drawing every minute.

Some of us thought we'd driven a stake through the heart of the slot machine issue when we chased Robert Ehrlich and Michael Steele from office.

Ehrlich once compared gambling to eating too much chocolate, and Steele opined to the Washington Post that gambling is "a behavioral issue. Just like smoking. You wanna stop - you stop."

What if you are married to somebody who thinks like those two? Someone who considers his gambling a skill? A gift? A second job?

So, unless you guys can get one of your state police friends to escort my husband to and from work, or unless you can lend me one of those ankle bracelets you use for criminals on home detention, keep slots out of Maryland.

Or you will have me to deal with.

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

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