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 AdminGambling Bill Bad Bet for Students     December 20, 2014  
Gambling bill is a bad bet for Maryland’s students
Maryland’s proposal for expanded gambling is being promoted as a big benefit for local schools. The real winners are the casino owners. There’s no guarantee schools will see any new money at all. Any funding that comes in from the new gambling bill could be completely negated by cuts to other fund sources.

If voters reject the referendum, some of the provisions enacted during the special session still take effect. The casinos will still take over ownership of some of the gambling equipment. Tax rates on the Allegany and Worcester county casinos will still be lowered.

However, if the referendum is not upheld by voters, the Prince George’s location will not go forward, table games will not be allowed at any Maryland casinos, casinos’ hours of operation will remain limited, and tax rates at the Anne Arundel County , Baltimore City, and Cecil County casinos will stay where they are.

The best deal for school funding would be to allow the Prince George’s location and table games, but to send more of the proceeds to school systems and less to casino owners. Regardless of the outcome of the referendum, Governor O’Malley and legislators should make sure that the additional gambling proceeds actually increase resources for local public schools. To do this, they should increase the per-pupil amount that drives the state’s education formulas, with a goal of restoring it over a number of years to the level prescribed by the original Thornton legislation.

If the money is really for our children, then our children’s schools should actually benefit from it.

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