Inspiration for this month’s column actually came from a post written by fellow Howard County blogger, Freemarket. In this post, Freemarket took aim at Delegate Gail Bates for opposing the slots initiative because of her religious beliefs. Upon reflection I concluded that I am okay with Delegate Bates, and any other elected official for that matter, using their religion as a guide for their legislative decisions as long as these officials make that clear. It is up to the voters then to decide whether that is an appropriate guide or not. That’s the way I see it anyway.
More concerning to me is the legislator that seemingly has no guide outside of the weathervane of political winds. In my mind, Delegate Shane Pendergrass fits that description. In an article last month by Larry Carson in the Sun, Delegate Pendergrass was described as being “not sure how she will vote” in the upcoming referendum.
Shane has served in the Maryland House of Delegates since 1995. The debate over slot machines in the Maryland has been going almost as long. It seems safe to assume that she has been exposed to voluminous amounts of information on this issue, certainly much more than the average citizen. Is it unreasonable to expect her to have reached a conclusion on whether she supports this issue or not?
I don’t think so.
I will be voting against the slots initiative but not because I oppose gambling. I would actually support a measure that allowed full casino gambling. Slot machines have been called the “crack cocaine” of gambling. They don’t require the slots player to do much more than insert a coin and push a button. It is akin to sitting and watching television. No real thinking is required. At least the casino games like blackjack and craps offer some challenge for your mind. If you really want to learn more about the world of slot machines I highly recommend this article from the New York Times Magazine.
I was also inspired by this excellent column by Jay Hancock in the Sun. Jay asserts that slots in the state will “hurt economic growth and the collection of other taxes.”
You can read this month’s column here.