The analyses of both slots-related bills prepared by the Department of Legislative Services said each had the potential to reduce revenue from the existing slot machine program, depending in part on how many counties chose to allow the machines once they were authorized by the legislature.
Klausmeier said she could not see how a few machines at VFW and American Legion halls would represent serious competition for the state slots program. Garlitz and other veterans organization members on the Eastern Shore said the slot machines there are only for members and their guests.
The bill analyses report that 52 nonprofits on the Eastern Shore were running slots in the 2008-2009 fiscal year, two-thirds of them veterans groups. Based on reports from 50 organizations, the analysis says the machines netted $6.6 million, averaging about $130,000 per organization.
Many organizations have video poker and other electronic game machines that look like slots, but are not allowed to pay off in cash. At the Rosedale VFW, for instance, seven machines that cost a dime and five that cost a nickel per play issue tickets that can be entered in a raffle for merchandise prizes.
Shuttlesworth said the post's 12 game machines produce about a fifth of the post's annual revenue.
"They are absolutely critical to us," he said. "Without them we're closed."
More slots would help, Shuttlesworth said, adding that "we would love to have" the cash prize casino nights proposed in the Malone-DeBoy Baltimore County bill.
Malone said the organizations seem to have reached the limit of what they can raise with the events they've been holding: "A lot of people are bull-roasted, basket-bingoed, shrimp-feasted out. ... Five years ago you would have a bull roast with 500 people. Five years later that same bull roast is 200 people. So people are hurting."
Around the bingo tables and the game machines in Rosedale last week, most patrons said they were enthusiastic about the prospect of slots and casino games coming to the post.
Margaret Stein of Perry Hall was sitting at a bingo table with her husband, sister and daughter, Kim Molen, who just won the $200 prize in the last game of the night. She said she and her husband, Larry, a Marine veteran of Vietnam, made seven stops at slots casinos up and back on a trip to Ocean City last month. She figures she could find time for playing slots at the casinos and the VFW.
"Oh my goodness, yeah. It's fun," she said.
Marie Cutair of Perry Hall was at the members-only bar having a Bud Light and a bag of potato chips, playing a video poker machine while the bingo game went on in the public room. She was able to join the VFW because her father was a World War II veteran, and figures the casino nights and slots would be good for the post and the veterans, especially elderly members who might have trouble driving to slots casinos some distance away.
"That would be great," she said. "It brings excitement to a lot of these veterans. ... They're on a fixed income. They can have a good time and be with their buddies."