Tip jar comment upsets county gaming director

February 16, 2004|by LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Amid the slots debate in Annapolis, the subject of Washington County's tip jars seems to keep popping up.

First tip jars were mentioned in a House Ways and Means Committee report on expanded gambling last month.

Then last week, Maryland State Lottery Director Buddy Roogow announced to the Senate committee hearing the slots issue that $78 million was wagered on tip jars in the county last year.

A few lawmakers, who are desperately trying to find cash to fill a state budget deficit, raised their eyebrows.

Washington County Gaming Director Dan DiVito said he was upset by Roogow's comments, which didn't make it clear that the figure - actually $83 million - included payouts.

When Roogow talked about other forms of gambling, he made it clear that the amount gambled included payouts, which he referred to as "churn."


"The reason they have this $78 million figure is because we've been so upfront," DiVito said. "Now it looks like they're trying to punish us because we've been so upfront about it."

Accusations cloud PenMar debate

ANNAPOLIS - Last week's debate about the future of PenMar Development Corp. was clouded by accusations of misconduct and conflicts of interest by current and former members of the board redeveloping the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base.

Washington County lawmakers thrust themselves into the middle of the fight by proposing legislation to shake up the board.

As lawmakers put the finishing touches on their plan, Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said they have more work to do.

"All we have left is how do we legislate personality conflicts?" Donoghue said.

Senate committee to tackle tough issues

ANNAPOLIS - On March 17, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will hear testimony on just about every controversial issue you could name.

Abortion, the death penalty, gun control, hate crimes, gay marriage, reparations for slavery and cockfighting all are on the agenda that day.

Committee Chairman Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery, may be counting on the fact that witnesses would rather get to their St. Patrick's Day parties than wait interminably to testify that day.

He also might be sending a message that none of the bills, which fall mostly on the far ends of the liberal or conservative spectrum, have no chance of passing this year.

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