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Opinion
WYPR's Senior News Analyst opines on recent Maryland news.

New Casino Still A Gamble For City

Tom Chalkley
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Time now, taxpayers of Baltimore, for a wet blanket.

I know, I know. Big money is on its way. The upscale Horseshoe venue opened Tuesday. One reporter described its ambience as adult Disneyland: a happy place where everyone beats the odds.

The new place will do well, for a while. Gamblers love "new," too. But it’s opening into a highly competitive arena. And there’s more competition to come at National Harbor in Prince George’s County.

So, will the proceeds live up to the projections in the longer term?

Will the city tax rate come down a few pennies, as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake promises? Will we notice it?

And what about all the other worthy causes expecting a payout?

What impact will more gambling cash have on the taxpayer psyche? This is where it gets dicey (to coin a phrase). Gambling dollars will make many less willing to pay more for increasingly costly services. Some will say, "all that gambling money, and still taxes go up?!"

Finally, how will full-throated gambling affect the culture of Baltimore? Some of us may be hurt – are already hurt by the lottery. But that’s old news. We’ve decided to live with gambling pain.

Should we expect more questionable behavior in the industry? An employee of one Maryland casino has decamped for the new one, allegedly with a list of high rollers.

And what will it mean if competition cuts Baltimore's take? Where do we turn then?

We'll worry about that later.

Your comments are welcome at fsmith@wypr.org.