Maryland Misses Opportunity with Gamblers

June 28, 2012 | Evan Vollerthum

I’m extremely dissapointed at how much money leaves my beloved state of Maryland everyday.   I’ve consistantly been around the horse racing & gaming industry in this area for 10 years.  There has been a lot of change.  There are clean, classy establishments all over the mid-atlantic ready to take Marylanders’ action, but not here in Baltimore or our home state.  Marylanders are stuck with two rundown thoroughbred tracks and a few slot parlors where its man vs. machine.  This is why I take my action outside of state lines.  If the state lawmakers had any business sense, they would realize that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia all have live table games and slots to offer customers at their respective thoroughbred tracks.  I have frequented Pimlico and local underground poker games for the last 10 years and noticed that there are a lot less people gambling locally these days.  Most gamblers living west of I-83 are headed to Charles Town to get their horses, dice and poker fix while people living east of I-83 are headed to Delaware Park to willfully shred cash.   I myself have begun to frequent Delaware Park and enjoy the setting.  I willingly accept paying the ‘slap in the face’ $6 toll in Cecil County on a bi-weekly basis in order to gamble comfortably.  Rather than have to worry about eating mushy soup that will upset your stomach or a bag of potato chips from the snack bar @the Sports Palace inside Pimlico, I can enjoy a $17 Prime Rib dinner or an asian-style beef noodle bowl right down the hall from the poker room at Delaware Park.  Rather than play video poker against a machine in Perryville, I can play live poker against Joe The Plumber, Nick The Greek and Russian George at Delaware Park.  Rather than have to watch my back & my wallet as I walk through the parking lot at Pimlico, I can ride the shuttle bus back to my car from the DP side entrance.  Rather than have to fear being robbed or arrested at an underground poker club in Baltimore with an excessive rake, I can hang out in a safe, relaxing enviroment with a minimal $4 chop such as Charles Town, Penn National, or Delaware Park.  Have I listed enough reasons why gaming in Maryland sucks yet?

There is a way to fix the gaming industry in Maryland.  That way is to build a full-service thoroughbred track & gaming center in downtown baltimore.  This facility should include a state of the art track to support our beloved horse racing industry, as well as a full gaming center with restaurants, a spa, night clubs and a hotel all on site.  The gamblers in Maryland would be more inclined to play locally due to location.  Also, tourists will come thru Baltimore via I-95 and have a reason to stop and spend their money rather than bypass us to donate at Delaware Park or Charles Town instead.  Maryland racing will once again rise to the top with a premier venue to host a Breeders Cup as well as host the annual Preakness Stakes.  Tourism will increase bringing plenty of revenue to local businesses downtown.  Thousands of jobs will open up for qualified workers as well.  All of these reasons will greatly contribute to a more successful business enviroment in the area. 

Hopefully, with the cooperation of our state government, someone will step up to the plate and deliver a first class alternative to the more appealing out of state gambling venues.  My gut tells me this won’t be happening anytime soon and it will be more of the same for the gaming industry in Maryland.