Both Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and Governor Martin O’Malley have been staunch supporters of slots in Maryland. But it is also no secret that the slots proposal has been both supported and criticized by a lot of people all over the state and even in Ocean City.
With this dilemma, it was decided during the Tourism Commission last week to take the stance of the majority and oppose slots expansion in Maryland. Allowing slot machines in Maryland has been a widely contested issue. Supporters of the slot machines said that it will give millions of dollars to the state that can be used for education, job creation and transportation. Critics of the plan said that it will just cause an increase in crime in the area and other expenses that would be affected by the slot machines. While Miller has been a staunch advocate of the slot machines, O’Malley has maintained a lower profile, saying that the slot machines should be only be limited to the racing tracks. While the compromise between the supporters and critics call for a restriction of the slot machines, critics still wonder on how long before the slot machines spill down to the neighboring communities. But slots or no slot machines, the state of Maryland is facing a budget shortage of $1.5 billion dollars that must be solved. The budget deficit issue and the chance of slot machines being allowed in Maryland has gone down to the community level, forcing tourism leaders and officials to discuss which side they will support.
During a tourism commission meeting on August 10, 2007, Dr. Leonard Berger, the owner of the Clarion Hotel in Ocean, spoke on behalf of the EDC (Economic Development Committee). Berger said that he and the EDC will remain staunch opponents of the slot machines in Maryland. The status of Atlantic City was also discussed during the meeting with several members of the committee saying that the casinos left the surrounding non-gambling areas in poverty. The committee also said that the promise of money for schools and education could be pushed aside once the slot machines were allowed in Maryland. The commission overwhelmingly voted against the slot machines, saying that the next step should be discussing the issue with the community and the Mayor and Council of Ocean City.