Just the other day I heard on the news that our County Executive is proposing a casino in Harford County to fund, among other things, teacher raises.
I enjoy a good casino, the excitement, the entertainment, the shopping, the food, the gambling and having a good time with friends. Atlantic City has just unveiled their newest casino, Revel, which is trying to return to the glamourous days of casinos, cue the Rat Pack. Delaware Park is a grand old lady, with a Victorian interior that is pure class and adds horse racing to the mix. However, there are no good casinos in Maryland! The only thing Maryland has are slot parlors, rows and rows of one armed bandits, stacked for the house. Table games- blackjack, poker, craps, money wheels are illegal in Maryland, and are computerized with a mechanized card dealer under glass at the new Live! casino in Anne Arundel County, and in Perryville you get a screen with a combination Stepford Wife/Playboy Bunny type model that is pretending to deal out the cards, in a skimpy costume of course.
It's true that casinos raise much needed tax revenue, create jobs, and can increase tourism, but what is the attraction when Maryland is surrounded by states where table games are legal?
I'm not a fan of slots. It takes no skill or strategy to play slots. I always lose the money I put into them and rarely see anyone winning big. They are jammed into a room and seating is very close. Your bet amounts are set by the machine to choose from. Yet whenever I go, I see people running two or three machines at once, feeding more and more money into them.
Not that long ago even Atlantic City's casinos were struggling and old standards like The Sands closed their doors. Even with many other attractions such as the boardwalk, the beach/ocean, lighthouses, wineries and more, they were struggling to survive. The addition of outlet malls, upscale restaurants and top notch entertainment is helping revitalize the industry there.
What can a Harford County casino offer that is different than Perryville or Anne Arundel County? Will people really drive for hours to play the same exact machines found at every other casino?
Then there is location...where would this casino be placed? Are there current sites zoned for such a venture? Would a casino be a blight on our rural farmland that is highly prized? Would it be in a more populated area adding traffic, pollution and other undesirable factors? What price do we all pay to have another casino in Harford County, or for that matter in Maryland?
It may seem like a quick way to raise tax revenue and increase jobs, but the county executive needs to think of not only the impact on Harford County, but to get a consensus of voters on their support.