After the horse racing day in Maryland and the rumors spreading in the state house that the expanded gambling plan is a good solution to the financial problems of the state, an anti-slots organization has reorganized following a year of silence on the issue.
The StopSlotsMaryland is a group composed of residents, civic and religious organizations. They held a meeting on May 25, 2007 at the Calvary United Methodist Church in Annapolis.
Comptroller Peter Franchot spoke at the meeting. After the ending of the 2006 session, the anti-slot organization ended the year off to allow their members to take part in the elections and they did not expect the slot machines to be a vital issue in the first year of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s term in office.
Aaron Meisner, the organization’s chairman since 2002, said that at first there had been no reason for them to reconvene. The slot issue is being revived as the state faces a $1.5 Billion budget deficit and thinking of ways to fill in the deficit.
In February 2007, the Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Democrat from Calvert, promised that the state’s budget problems would be fixed.
No decision was made during the previous session on Miller’s proposal to allow 15,500 slot machines and allocate around $800 million for educational purposes.
Mr. O’Malley commented that without slot machines and the bigger purses and prizes that they provide neighboring states like Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia will benefit instead from Maryland’s loss.
With political forces stating their side on the slots issue, it was time for the anti-slots group to reconvene, according to Mr. Meisner. The slots proposal will encounter a rough route to the legislature.
Speaker Michael E. Busch, a Democrat from Annapolis, is a critic of the slot machines and said that the debate on the machines may begin this year. The budget deficit may need a permanent solution and whether the slot machines are an answer to those problems remains to be seen.