I've had a number of friends ask me about Maryland's Question 7 and how I'm voting on it. Instead of cutting and pasting the same info over and over, I thought I'd write out my reply here and just share this link.
I'm voting NO on Question 7. And I urge you to vote NO on Question 7 too.
My rationale has nothing to do with being moralistic or anti-gambling. While I do think gambling is for suckers, I have enjoyed doing it myself.
My rataionale for being opposed to Question 7 is based on pragmatism.
Most studies I've read suggest that the tax dollars collected from gambling revenue don't offset the tax dollars spent on the costs of legalized gambling. This means it ends up being a net loss, therefore the public is again covering the costs while an elite few get rich.
If the taxation numbers are right, and it's set up in such a way that it benefits the public, I'd be for this question. But Question 7 is not something that will benefit the public - which is how the large corporate casino interests who want to expand gambling in Maryland are presenting the argument.
I am, for example, for drug legalization, but I favor it only if the taxation is handled correctly - to make sure the public doesn't end up eating the costs involved in legalizing drugs. If there is a massive legalizing effort sponsored by large corporations looking to externalize expenses - then its benefits to the common good would be negated and I wouldn't support it. Which is how I see Question 7.
The money promised to schools is fungible (the State Comptroller says the promise is completely bogus). The "good jobs for Marylanders" argument is the same bogus rationale used when large corporate interests and city leaders wanted to drop a Wal-Mart into my community. The job numbers and the quality of the jobs are greatly exaggerated.
But the main problem I have with Question 7 is that if a large industry is going to make big profits off of something, and that something creates issues that cost society - that industry should have to pay those costs instead of dumping those expenses on the public.
Every study I've seen of gambling shows that it costs taxpayers money. So until it doesn't cost the public money, I'm voting no on Question 7. I don't need more of my tax money that could be going to schools, roads, rec centers, subsidizing yet another billionaire.
The social costs of gambling, such as increased crime, lost work time, bankruptcies and financial hardships faced by the families of gambling addicts, have reached epidemic proportions, costing the economy as much as $54 billion annually, Earl L. Grinols, an Illinois economist, has written in “Gambling in America: Costs and Benefits,” published this month by Cambridge University Press.
Casino gambling causes up to $289 in social costs for every $46 of economic benefit, according to Grinols. “In 2003 dollars, the cost to society of an additional pathological gambler is $10,330 based on studies performed in the mid-1990s, whereas the cost to society of an additional problem gambler is $2,945,” he wrote. “Accounting for the cost of raising tax dollars to cover some of these costs raises the totals to $11,304 and $3,222, respectively.”
Put differently, Grinols said, “The costs of problem and pathological gambling are comparable to the value of the lost output of an additional recession in the economy every four years.”
Let's say that again, gambling has a social cost of $289 for every $46 it generates.
From a cost-benefit analysis - voting for for more gambling in Maryland in the hopes of generating more tax revenue is a sucker's bet.
But let's be honest - every single person I've spoken to who favors Question 7 doesn't favor it for the jobs. They don't favor it for the promised tax revenue. They favor it because they want to gamble. Period.
And they don't want to drive out of state to do so. If Question 7 is the best deal we can get, let them drive out of state.
If casino owners are getting rich, and the revenue we're generating off the casinos' profits don't cover the public costs increases in crime, substance abuse, violence, etc. that come along with gambling, then we aren't keeping money in Maryland at all - we are increasing expense in Maryland.
Furthermore, Maryland casinos are already under-performing. So there is no logic to expanding them.
Again, I'm not specifically arguing against legalized gambling in Maryland, I am arguing against this deal - which will put the burden of the increase of expense on the taxpayers - even those who don't go to the casinos.
It should also be pointed out that Question 7 doesn't legalize gambling. Gambling in Maryland isn't legal. I, as a small business owner,
can't get a permit for a poker night. What Question 7 does is make legal exceptions for
a handful of large corporations to engage in behavior small
business people can't engage in. And we're giving them tax breaks to do
I know people want to gamble. But I don't want to pay for the damages that will result from allowing that, and it's unfair to expect others to pick up the costs.
And anyone voting for Question 7 is probably terrible at gambling because it's a very bad bet.
But then - aren't the odds always in favor of the house?
overheard by Benn Ray drawn by Jordan Jeffries (click on strip to see larger version) Look for a new Said What? comic in Wednesday's B: The Paper. Available free around town. You can also follow this strip and others at MutantFunnies.com. ---------------------------------------------------- Overhear
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