Two Anne Arundel councilmen enlist in anti-slot machine campaign

June 20, 2008|By Steven Stanek | Steven Stanek,Sun reporter

Two Anne Arundel County councilmen joined a statewide campaign yesterday urging residents to vote against a November referendum to legalize slot machines, saying that expanded gambling at Laurel Park would have a devastating impact on quality of life in the county.

Democratic Councilmen Joshua J. Cohen of Annapolis and G. James Benoit of Crownsville were part of the third stop on a statewide tour organized by Marylanders United to Stop Slots, a group launched in April that counts Comptroller Peter Franchot and other prominent elected officials as its chief backers.

If the referendum passes, Anne Arundel would get as many as 4,750 slot machines - close to a third of the state total. The proposed amendment does not specify that a slots license would go to the racetrack, but it does require that the Arundel slots parlor be in a strip of land near Laurel Park.

"We object to plopping down these huge casino-style slot palaces right in our community, right next to residential neighborhoods," Cohen said. "Slot machines are the crack cocaine of gambling. They are the most addictive, pernicious form of gambling. ... If you bring it to people's doorsteps, you are going to increase the addiction rates."

The councilmen, who were joined by community leaders, also said the county lacked the money and infrastructure to deal with the influx of traffic, saying it would be like having a Baltimore Ravens home game all year round.

Marylanders United to Stop Slots has held events in Easton and Ocean City and plans to hold another news conference in Prince George's County on Tuesday.

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