01 October 2010

Re: Slots opponents shameful campaign

The user "ConsDemo" posted some comments about my blog post about the anti-slots campaign here in Anne Arundel County.  Rather than reply via the comments, I thought it would be appropriate to reply in a new blog post since my reply will contain some of No Slots at the Mall's own advertisements, which are perhaps the most damning evidence of all.
At the mall: When someone says they "parked at the mall" do you presume they mean within the physical structure of the mall? 
The casino would be in the same vicinity as the mall. I think many people understand that's what the opponents mean. I haven't heard an add claim they slots would be within the mall.
When someone says they're "shopping at Arundel Mills mall," do you presume they're shopping in the parking lot, or do you presume they're actually shopping within the physical structure of the mall?  People go to Arundel Mills to shop or see a movie, not to park in the parking lot. Parking is just what you do when you get there.  It is not the end result.  If the opponents mean something other than what they're saying, then they should come out and say it. "Near the mall."  "Across the parking lot from the mall."  Until then, I'll maintain to say otherwise is dishonest.

Of course the slots will be in the same vicinity of the mall.  No one has questioned this point.  The entire point of this location is to take advantage of the crowds that already go there.  But my point was to directly combat the assertion that the slots are "at the mall" and  "in the mall." Since you haven't heard an ad claim that they would be within the mall, see for example the following "No Slots at the Mall" advertisement, and notice the following quote at 21 seconds in the video: "They just don't belong in the mall."

Now watch this next ad and see the first quote:  "We have the power to keep a slots parlor out of Arundel Mills mall."  Complete with a graphic of a family shopping in the mall!  This is a clear indication that they're trying to make us believe the slots are in the mall and that by voting against Question A, the slots parlor will move to Laurel Park:

Words matter, and it's very clear to be that the people behind this campaign chose their words carefully.
Family-friendly: As for the quality of life at the mall. Yes, traffic is bad, adding the casino, absent significant road enhancements (and none are planned) will make it MUCH WORSE.
If you go to Atlantic City, there are strip clubs every other block and 24/7 alcohol consumption, that's Arundel Mills within a few years after the casino comes. That's what people are worried about, you shouldn't belittle their concerns if you want them to vote your way.
I've been stuck in Arundel Mills traffic before so I am not going to comment on that point other than to say that I agree traffic is a problem.  But while the ads sometimes talk about traffic, it really isn't one of their key talking points.  As for crime, I see that the slippery slope is alive and well!  Do you really believe that one referendum to place slots at one building near Arundel Mills will lead to 24/7 alcohol and strip clubs "within a few years"?  Atlantic City has been around a long time.  It's an entire city dedicated to gambling.  We're talking about one facility for slots.  To make this leap is so far-fetched that I am not sure I even know how to respond to it.  Your argument is akin to claiming that suspending a kid from school will ruin his self-esteem and therefore make him a murderer.  In fact, the text of Bill No. 82-09 (the zoning bill that Question A seeks to approve) explicitly prohibits adult book stores or adult movie theaters within 1,000 feet of video lottery facilities.
Not opposed to gambling, just this location.
I haven't seen an ad from "no Slots" that claims slots would be placed at Laurel, merely that it is a possible alternative location.
I'm glad you pointed this out, because it gives me the opportunity to show yet another misleading advertisement from the good folks at No Slots at the Mall.  Here is the video's actual description at YouTube: "Vote Against Question A to prevent the development of a slots parlor at Arundel Mills Mall. Instead, slots can be developed at Laurel Park, a location where gaming already occurs and isn't near kids and families."  The following commercial has been playing on TV here in Anne Arundel County.  Watch it, and see how it clearly states that voting for Question A will re-locate slots from Arundel Mills to Laurel Park, including the quote: "Let's put slots at Laurel Park, not Arundel Mills mall."  And the most damning of all: "To put slots in the best location, vote against Question A."

Finally, consider this editorial by the Baltimore Sun:
The battle over slots at Arundel Mills Mall has taken to the airwaves, with TV ads by opponents that mislead Anne Arundel County voters on two critical details: first, that slots would be more lucrative if located elsewhere; and second, that rejecting the county zoning plan would lead to the machines' being located at a racetrack instead.
Laurel Park has no standing as an alternate location for slots. Magna Entertainment Corp. had a chance to bid for the Anne Arundel site but failed to post the fee required under law. Should the zoning proposal fail this fall, it's not at all clear what would happen next. Should the license be awarded a second time, there's certainly no guarantee it would go to Laurel Park.
Meanwhile, the revenue generated by the Arundel Mills project, with its proposed 4,750 machines, is expected to far surpass any other slots location in the state. Don't take the word of Cordish Cos.; that's the findings of the state's independent video lottery location commission, which estimates slots will generate about $30 million in tax revenue each year for the county alone.
Opponents' complaints about traffic or locating gambling near a mall are fair game (although, as developer David Cordish pointed out earlier this week in a debate on Baltimore's WYPR, the latter gripe may prove somewhat hypocritical as Magna recently opened an upscale shopping center next to Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Florida).
Reasonable people can differ on the project, but the facts are the facts. The mall attracts more than 14 million visitors a year, and that is bound to bring in more slots patrons then Laurel Park, which has averaged fewer than 3,000 in attendance on live racing days and is no more heir apparent to slots than the fast-food restaurants on nearby Route 1.
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