22 October 2010

Finally, some truth about slots

There has been so much deception from the slots opposition that it's difficult to tell when you actually here the truth.  But some small bits of the truth appears to have emerged Thursday.

First, the facts: the slots opponents are organized under the banner of "No Slots at the Mall."  No Slots at the Mall is principally funded by the Maryland Jockey Club.  The controlling interest in the Maryland Jockey Club is held by Penn National Gaming, both of which co-own Laurel Park. Penn National is the owner of the Hollywood Casinos in Charlestown, West Virginia and Perryville, Maryland (among many others).

Since Charlestown is a short drive from Baltimore, any competitor's casino in Anne Arundel County (like the Cordish proposal adjacent to Arundel Mills Mall) would be potential competition for Charlestown.  And the Maryland gaming statute only allows a company to own one license in the state, so because Penn National owns Perryville, they would be unable to open another site in Maryland.

So, what to do?  Well, less than one month after opening Perryville, Penn National is now willing to sell it's license there in order to pursue another location, presumably one at Laurel Park.  Now, do you see?  It's one big money game for Penn National.  Defeat slots at Arundel Mills Mall, sell off Perryville,  re-open the zoning process in Anne Arundel County, and attempt to re-acquire the Cordish license to develop slots at Laurel Park.

Their opposition has nothing to do with a "family-friendly" Arundel Mills Mall, or traffic congestion, or crime.  Those are just failed talking points to placate the families around the mall.  The real opposition has everything to do with injecting new money into the Maryland Jockey Club and Penn National Gaming.

On a side note, for all of the opposition's claims about protecting kids from gambling, it is especially ironic that the Maryland Jockey Club has a Pony Pals Kids Club:
Celebrate your birthday with a party at Laurel Park or Pimlico Race Course for a fun afternoon that will bring you close to the horses.
A race will be named in honor of the birthday boy or girl in our official racing program - plus, we'll take your picture in the Winner's Circle with the winning jockey of the race! 
We've got an awesome kids menu with all your favorites, and a birthday cake, too.
We'll present the birthday guest of honor with a cool present, and each of your friends will receive a Pony Pals goodie bag.
Your own special hostess will greet you and your party, and coordinate your activities for the day.
Don't forget your Pony Pals invitations and thank you notes.
That's right, they want kids to have their birthday parties at a race track.  So much for protecting kids from gambling.
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