Changes to Maryland’s Gaming Laws

Maryland legislators approved gambling at select sites throughout Maryland about a decade ago. It made sense to a degree because most people already had the ability to buy lottery tickets or play games at many small shops. Part of the approval package was a percentage of revenue, other than normal taxes, that would be set aside for schools and other programs.

I think lawmakers under estimate the negative effects gambling has on the community and over pump the benefits of the revenue it will generate, just so they can have revenue coming in to cover programs that might otherwise find it difficult to get enough funding. Everything comes with an expense.

A new bill just passed that will give license holders the ability to expand sport gambling and internet gaming. Right now, the casino operators has online gaming for “practice” but the new law would give them the ability to upgrade those sites to accept real money and give players the ability to gamble those funds. Right now, the sites can’t pay out funds.

I think online gambling initially sounds incredibility challenging from a security and management angle. It is clear that people gambling from home may bet more often and, therefore, lose more money statistically than they would if they drove to a casino. While that may sound great for the State of Maryland and create a more “sustainable” revenue stream for casino license holders who were surely bailed out during the pandemic, gambling is a problem for many people.

The downsides of gambling in a casino vs. playing the stock market or making bets in business ventures is that casino gambling losses are not deductible except against wins and there is a period of time, I believe twelve months, in which the losses can offset those wins. Win $1,000,000 in February and lose $2,000,000 18 months later and you would still have to pay tax on the $1,000,000 but would not be able to deduct the losses.

Casino operators have many ways to distract you while playing their games and they clearly do it with music, engagement and asking the dealers to do certain things. Everything is stacked against the player. The only one winning is the house and they take that money to the bank.

There are also a lot of people who are regular gamblers. My friend Chris was suffering from cancer and when I asked other friends why his parents weren’t coming forward with a lot of money to help him with his bills, I was told it was because his mother had a gambling problem and was throwing all of the family’s money into high dollar slot machines. Her son died. I’m not saying it was her fault but I do think he would’ve had better odds if he had more resources to fight the disease.

Gambling is meant to be fun but, at Casinos, the only party winning is the gaming license holder and the government. The second you walk in that door, you are a loser.

Gary

I grew up in Baltimore and currently live in the Rodgers Forge community just north of Baltimore City.

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