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Area residents divided on possible expansion of gambling in Maryland

June 04, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Derrick Rideout
By Caleb Calhoun/Mobile Journalist

Hagerstown resident Rick Curry did not hide his opposition Monday to the expansion of gambling in Maryland.

“People have enough addictions already,” he said. “We have lotteries, tip jars and scratch-offs.”

Curry, 50, was among area residents who talked Monday about the idea of casinos and gambling in Western Maryland after Maryland’s legislative leadership in late May discussed possible dates for a special session to consider the expansion of gambling in the state.

Area residents had mixed reactions on the subject, and Curry said he does not think gambling would be good for Hagerstown.

“It’s going to draw more people,” he said. “We might have an increase in crime.”

Derrick Rideout, 32, of Hagerstown, however, supported the idea of having casinos near Hagerstown and expanding gambling throughout the state.

“It’s a tourist attraction. Everybody likes to gamble and more people will come,” he said. “It would create more revenue for the city, and I know we need money because times are tough for everybody.”

Barb Brown also supported the idea of expanding gambling in Maryland.

“A lot of people go to Charles Town (W.Va.) from surrounding areas because it’s closer than Atlantic City, so it could bring a lot of tourism out here,” she said. “I think casinos do bring a lot of revenue.”

Brown lives in Falling Waters, W.Va., but said casinos in the area would help her area in West Virginia as well.

“It would help with our tourism as well because people could stay right across the border,” she said. “If I were to gamble, I would probably come to Maryland because for me, it’s more convenient than going to Charles Town.”

Hagerstown resident Robert Harris, however, said he is against the idea because it would add to the poverty that already exists in Hagerstown.

“I don’t see how gambling’s going to help the poor people here because it’s draining their pockets even more,” he said. “There is that wish of getting rich or something.”

Harris, 57, said that there are other ways to build up Hagerstown.

“I’d like to see more businesses, large or small, coming here,” he said. “I want something more positive to come that won’t just take money out of people’s hands.”

John Frazier of Hagerstown also said he was against the idea.

“I think we have more important things to worry about than expanding casinos and gambling,” he said. “Let’s use our tax money to clean up the city.”

Frazier, 40, also said casinos in the area could create more problems than they are worth.

“It would be a slight headache for the area,” he said. “It could be overwhelming for the police department to maintain control.”

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