Budget Deficit Renews Calls for More Slot Machines

On May 27, 2007, with the state of Maryland facing a huge budget deficit and another governor saying that the Preakness Stakes could soon pack up and leave, many Annapolis residents believe that the legislators will finally allow the slot machines.

Many people believe that the slot machines will bring millions of dollars to the state coffers and revive the dying horse racing industry. However, hoping is very different from the tactics of slots critics, especially StopSlotsMaryland headed by Aaron Meisner, who gathered last week to prepare for what is certain to be a bloody debate.

The critics’ hope is that the little details will help defeat the slots proposal backed by ex governor, Robert L. Ehrlich, once again. Meisner said that they will do everything to block this proposal. Governor Martin O’Malley from the Democratic Party is supporting the slots proposal.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. from Calvert and a leading supporter of the expanded gambling proposal said that the slot machines will be legalized either in the special session or when the legislators reconvene in January.

The latest proposal which is sponsored by Miller would have authorized 15,500 slot machines at the 4 racing tracks in the state, producing a total of $800 million for the state.

Over $90 million will also be set aside for the purses in horse races. A slots proposal, albeit in a smaller scale has already passed the House of Delegates once since Michael E. Busch from Anne Arundel became the House Speaker back in 2003.

The bill that was approved in 2005 received marginal votes that are required in the House and was declared “dead” upon passage to the Senate. The bill only included 4 known locations, none in Baltimore or Prince George.