He says the gaming industry controls Md.'s political process.
One Maryland elected official doesn't like the way the General Assembly approved a gambling bill during its recent special session. Comptroller Peter Franchot says the gaming industry got lucrative tax breaks of up to 25% or more from the same legislature that raised taxes and fees on everyone else.
"The state's political system has been hijacked by the national gambling interests," says Franchot. "Who else would have the power to come in in the dead of summer, and bring everybody down to Annapolis."
The General Assembly was came back into Special Session recently to adopt a gaming bill permitting a sixth casino in Maryland at National Harbor in Prince George's County, and allow table games. It must be decided by the voters in a referendum in November.
Supporters of the new slots parlor and expanded gambling say it will benefit the state in the long run by bringing in new tax revenue for schools and other needs. They also say most Marylander go to Delaware, West Virginia and Pennsylvania to gamble, so why doesn't Maryland try to capture some of that revenue. "For folks in Western Maryland who like casinos and like gambling, that's not the issue here," says Franchot. "This is the issue of crony capitalism for a small number of rich people, who actually run the system in Annapolis and send the bill to all of us."
He also says the revenues from the Prince George's County casino will take several years to materialize, and they may be much less than those estimated by gambling industry supporters and legislative analysts.
Like some lawmakers, Franchot says he doesn't like the way gaming industry representatives did business with state lawmakers, which often took place behind closed doors. "You can love casinos and love gambling and love slot machines. But my goodness! You don't love political corruption," he says.
Franchot urges Marylanders to vote down the gambling referendum question on the ballot in November.