What would a Maryland General Assembly session be without a debate on slots? Looks like Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller wants to make sure we don't have to find out. The issue that never goes away was in the news again this week, when Senator Miller said he'd like to see a slots parlor in his native Prince George's County to save Rosecroft Raceway, a beleaguered harness track in Fort Washington. Or slots could go in the sprawling, new National Harbor development. Or somewhere else. Maybe, he allowed, we could even have a debate about adding table games to the mix.
You could be excused for thinking this issue had been settled when the General Assembly voted in 2007 to put the question of legalizing slots before the voters, who approved it by a solid majority. Sure, there was plenty of folderol last year when the Anne Arundel County Council dragged its feet about approving zoning for a slots parlor, or when a bid for a Baltimore site was thrown out by the state slots licensing commission, but in the grand scheme of gambling expansions, these are minor hiccups. Money should be flowing into the state treasury from slots parlors on the Eastern Shore and in Cecil County by the fall, and the Arundel casino has the potential to be among the most profitable in the nation.
In Baltimore, the process of finding new bidders is moving forward, and mayor-to-be Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake is committed to doing what it takes to make the project successful.
It would be reasonable for the General Assembly to consider reducing the investment requirements for a proposed casino at Rocky Gap, which attracted no bidders in the initial round. But otherwise, there's nothing about the way the process has unfolded yet that indicates the need for the legislature to take up the issue this year.
Readers respond Not only do I agree with Senator Miller regarding slots in Prince George's County, I think the General Assembly should approve full casino gaming. I would prefer any full gaming casinos be located in downtown Baltimore, but anywhere in Maryland would be OK. Sean Tully