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Gaming bills could curb tip cash

March 06, 2007

The Washington County Commissioners and members of the county's local General Assembly delegation should express their opposition in the strongest possible terms to two pieces of gambling legislation.

The two bills' sponsors say that it's not their intention to interfere with this county's successful tip-jar operation, which provides funds to a number of local charities and fire/rescue companies.

But with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller calling for a variety of tax increases, it's all too easy to predict that once such bills become law, state officials would come looking for a share of local tip-jar funds.

The bill introduced by Del. Richard Impallaria, R-Har-ford/Baltimore County, calls for a central authority to issue licenses and collect fees.

The bill introduced by Del. Jon Cardin, D-Baltimore County, calls for the state to name a task force to study Maryland's commercial and charitable gaming activities prior to legalizing slot machines.

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This is a bill that should have been introduced at the beginning of the last administration. Now, with the state facing a structural deficit, it's time to study how to legalize slots to provide Marylanders with an alternative to taking their cash to Delaware and West Virginia.

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