- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The state agency charged with monitoring and regulating gambling has reported a bump in overall spending at casinos, with more money directed toward funding state schools and other projects.
Though traditional lottery sales dipped modestly, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency reported casinos and traditional lottery sales generated $849.2 million for the state’s general fund and education trust fund in fiscal 2014, 2 percent more than the previous year.
Lottery sales supplement the state’s general fund, with $521.1 million headed toward the pot from fiscal 2014. The education trust fund will benefit from $328.09 million in casino sales.
The trust fund supports prekindergarten and K-12 programs, construction of schools and the University System of Maryland along with state community colleges.
Last year, $545 million was contributed to the general fund.
“Lottery sales certainly have been impacted by the growth of Maryland’s casino industry,” MLGCA Director Stephen Martino said in a news release.
Exactly 49.5 percent of every dollar spent on slot machines is contributed to the state Education Trust Fund, with 33 percent allotted to the casino operators. Proceeds from table games are almost inverse, casinos collect the lion’s share at 80 percent, with 20 percent distributed to the Education Trust Fund.
Marylanders approved the inclusion of slot machines on a 2008 referendum, and a controversial vote on the referendum in 2012 also made table games legal.
The campaign in support of the 2012 ballot measure was rather misleading, said Del. C.T. Wilson (D-Charles). It perpetuated the idea that table games would serve as a Hail Mary for the education budget, but the money from casinos does not increase the bulk of Maryland Department of Education budget, but only taps into a different revenue source — casinos —than taxes.
“I don’t believe that it would solve all our financial woes, that it was any silver bullet,” he said.
Wilson, a former prosecutor in Prince George’s County, noted that the impoverished tend not to throw money away on table games, which attract high-rollers, but spend money playing the lottery.
Five casinos are based in Maryland in Perryville, Berlin, Hanover and Rocky Gap. The Horseshoe Casino, the second-largest casino in the state, opened Tuesday in Baltimore, attracting a crowd of approximately 15,000.
The 2012 ballot also greenlit construction of an MGM casino in Prince George’s County, which is scheduled to open in 2016.