Never say “never” but a pet casino project of Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr. is in critical condition. The sweetheart deal, which would gift-wrap a casino for National Harbor in Miller’s Prince George’s County (in return for concessions to existing operators), is pegged at a cost of $1 billion. Considering Maryland’s 67% tax — to be “relaxed” to 60% if Miller’s bill passes — this is an enterprise only for the foolhardy. Even sitting across the river from the District of Columbia, potentially interdicting business that would go to Baltimore, spending a cool billion would be an exceptionally difficult investment to recoup when the state is taking six dollars out of every 10 in your till.
While Gov. Martin O’Malley (D, right) is no friend of gaming in general, he’s got a point that Miller and his colleagues are moonstruck. They’re bedazzled by the idea that a Prince George’s casino is the panacea that will cure the state’s budgetary ills. Neither in the long term nor the short one is a megaresort going to close a $500 million revenue shortfall. And, as long as the Lege is rewriting the rules of casino development in the state, why leave Penn National Gaming’s Rosecroft Raceway out of the discussion altogether? Penn has been an obnoxious brat and poor corporate citizen, to be sure, stirring up political trouble and probably making few Annapolis friends along the way, but the peremptory award of a site to National Harbor is another instance of why lawmakers would be wise to put the brakes on this attempted stampede.
Good fences don’t make good neighbors, at least when casino development in Massachusetts is on the table. At first blush, it might seem absurd that the good burghers of Walpole want a say in whether adjoining Foxborough can permit Steve Wynn to build a casino (left) in its city limits. Similarly, while Suffolk Downs may straddle East Boston and Revere, its traffic could back up into nearby Winthrop if Caesars Entertainment builds a racino at the downs. Walpole’s infrastructure will likely be drawn upon by Wynn’s project. The “spillover” impact is going to turn what looked like an orderly series of votes into the equivalent of a raucous New England town meeting, as as many municipalities as possible try to be heard. As for Walpole resident Mike McCarthy, who will likely have a Wynn Resorts casino sitting a mere 50 feet from his kids’ jungle gym, he has our sympathies.
“Trailer Station” fans had best fill up the gas tank before seeking out the next eight-hour Nevada casino. On May 22, United Coin sets up gambling-for-a-day in a defunct supermarket … in Carson City. Trust me, it’s not worth the trip.