Fighting for Blackjack Tables: Maryland’s Turn

Over the last couple of years we have see several states put forth legislation that would allow their slot parlors to expand with table games such as blackjack, poker and roulette; other bills have been for the allowing of new fully fledged brick and mortar casinos. Now Maryland is moving forward in their lawmakers scraping for blackjack tables.

The name of the bill that would give the state blackjack tables, poker tables and other table games is House Bill 331. House Bill 331 would allow the five establishments that already offer casino gambling in the form of slot machines the opportunity to apply for a gambling expansion in the form of table games.

Naturally the reason for the bill is to allow Maryland to generate more revenue and to allow their existing gambling facilities to compete with neighboring states who are now offering gambling establishments with both slot machines and table games. Delegate Frank Turner, who is the head supporter of House Bill 331, said, “It is a matter of staying competitive with other states around us.”

And he is right in saying so. Think about it: if you were looking to do some gambling in a brick and mortar casino, would you go to a slots parlor where your only playing options were slot machines, or would you make the drive to a brick and mortar casino with blackjack and poker as well as slot machines? The answer is simple. Americans desire variety, and even if they only wind up playing one kind of casino game, they will tend toward the option that gives them the most options.

Yesterday saw a lot of talk of gambling options for Maryland in the General Assembly. But it will take more than one meeting of the general assembly to determine whether or not to move forward in the table games expansion debate.

States Need Revenue

Since the recession, states around the U.S. are having trouble with their budgets. Trouble as in there isn’t enough money. And we’re not talking falling short a little bit, but a lot. As in millions—or billions in some places—short.

With states being at such a loss in terms of money they’re forced to cut programs and jobs, including programs and teachers in our children’s schools. And since cutting jobs hurts the economy even more and cutting education programs hurts our children, states are beginning to look at other ways of bringing in money.

Legalizing or expanding gambling offerings, such as blackjack tables, is being looked at or acted upon in at least eighteen states this year. And it’s only March.

While I’m not going to complain about a wider selection of casino games and it being easier to play blackjack, just how desperate are states for more income?

Check out what Rep. Kraig Paulson, the Republican leader in the Iowa House said: “Absolutely, we’re addicted to gambling dollars.” And this man is an opponent to expanding gambling in his state. But he also understands that his state needs revenue as well.

So what all are states up to?

-Iowa has begun a new state lottery.
-Pennsylvania has legalized table games, like blackjack.
-New York is adding 4,500 video lottery machines.
-The Governor of Connecticut wants his state to offer Keno in restaurants.
-More lottery machines have been installed in Florida. Florida is also trying to reach a deal with the Seminole tribe in regards to blackjack tables at their casinos.
-Kansas has increased its promotion of Dodge City.
-Missouri is switching and upgrading its slots game offerings to include fancier, more entertaining slots.
-And Maryland is adding 10,000 slot machines.

For citizens that are opposed to opening up gambling offerings, take a moment to consider another option: raising taxes. Suddenly, while you still aren’t in favor of things like blackjack tables, expanding a state’s gambling offerings don’t seem so bad. Because nobody wants to pay more in taxes.

Turning to gambling isn’t a sign that states are loosening up their morals. Legalizing and expanding their gambling offerings is a sign that states are looking for ways to increase their revenue while not hitting their citizens any harder. Yes, gambling will take more of their money, but it will be money willingly offered by citizens, whereas no one likes to pay taxes.

So when you’re not happy to hear about more blackjack tables or some other form of gambling coming to your state, think of the alternative—you could be paying more in taxes.