30 September 2010

Slots opponents shameful campaign

I wrote previously about the dishonesty in the anti-slots campaign here in Anne Arundel County, but I wanted to go back a bit and see what else the opponents have been saying.  I found an editorial written by David Jones, Chairman of "No Slots at the Mall."  On August 30, he wrote an article in the Baltimore Sun entitled "Slots at the mall: a terrible idea."  He wrote this article in defense of "No Slots at the Mall" advertisements which some have criticized as inaccurate.

There are three themes which reverbate throughout: not just Mr. Jones article, but their commercials and advertisements:
  • "At the mall."  A woman in one of the anti-slots advertisements says "...they just don't belong in the mall."  The name of the group is "No Slots at the mall."  Every other talking point is "at the mall" or "in the mall."  This claim about the location is as dishonest as those who say the "ground zero mosque" is "at ground zero" rather than two blocks away.  Now I know you think this is a petty point, but it's actually a significant difference.  Your children eating lunch at the food court aren't going hear the ding-ding-ding of a winning slot machine.  The plan is for a completely separate structure.  It's not attached to the mall, it's not at the mall, it's not in the mall.  To claim this is to be dishonest.
  • "Family-friendly."  The article's tagline is "Why ruin this family-friendly destination when Anne Arundel has a better location?"  Yet Mr. Jones doesn't seem to believe this himself.  He writes that "Arundel Mills mall already has serious crime and traffic problems."  Wait, what?  Are we "family-friendly" or do we have "serious crime" problems?  One or the other?  Both?  Really?  Are you saying that the addition of gambling will be worse than the "serious crime" problems that already exist?  You can't have it both ways.
  • "Not opposed to gambling, just this location."  Mr. Jones clearly states that "many of us who oppose the slots facility at that location are not against gambling..."  So if you're not against gambling in general, what about the gamblers themselves?  Well, that's another question altogether. Mr. Jones: "Parents are legitimately alarmed about co-mingling children with gamblers in such close proximity. Gamblers entering and exiting the slots facility would have easy access to the food court, shops, parking lots and other areas in the mall."  Stop the presses!  Gamblers will have easy access to the food court!  The horror!  You want to laugh about that, then you realize what they're doing.  The slots opponents don't want them "co-mingling" with children in close proximity.  Who are we talking about here, gamblers or child molesters?!  Seriously, this is pure character assassination on the part of the slots opponents, and it is shameful.  A woman in one of the advertisements says "I have no problem with gambling and slots being in Anne Arundel County, they just don't belong in the mall."  Back in 2008, 59% of Marylanders (and the same percentage of Anne Arundel County voters) voted to approve slots in Maryland; the opponents know it would be foolish to oppose gambling in general.  So they would rather hedge their bets and latch on to the location issue, and claim that they were victims of a bait-and-switch because they thought the slots would be located at Laurel Park.  So let's take a look at that ballot question from 2008:

Authorizes the State to issue up to five video lottery licenses for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education of children in public schools, prekindergarten through grade 12, public school construction and improvements, and construction of capital projects at community colleges and higher education institutions. No more than a total number of 15,000 video lottery terminals may be authorized in the State, and only one license may be issued for each specified location in Anne Arundel, Cecil, Worcester, and Allegany Counties, and Baltimore City. Any additional forms or expansion of commercial gaming in Maryland is prohibited, unless approved by a voter referendum.

Did you see anything about Laurel Park in there?  No?  Go back and look again.  Not this time, either.  Go figure.  Now it is true that Laurel Park was in the news and it was one of the possible locations, but slots hadn't even been approved, and the proposals hadn't even been submitted.  So if you voted for slots with the belief that they would be located at Laurel Park, then you simply did not follow the issue closely enough, or you assumed something that had yet to take place.  Don't blame Cordish because you were unable to understand the issue.

The reason you see the same themes throughout every article, commercial and advertisement is because you are being subject to the campaign of a well-funded interest group campaign who will do whatever it takes to gets slots away from Arundel Mills and into Laurel Park.  "No Slots at the Mall" is funded by the Maryland Jockey Club, who also hired an out-of-state firm to get the referendum on the ballot in the first place.

It's time for David Jones and "No Slots at the Mall" to renounce and remove their inaccurate ads, stop the shameful comparison which suggest that gamblers would be a menace to children if they're in close proximity. Sure, they don't come right out and say it, but they want to plant that thought in the back of your head that that gamblers just might molest your child.

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