Maryland is on the verge of quietly and quickly rewriting the Casino regulations which will result in more devastation for families who have members prone to gambling addiction.
Proposed “Emergency Regulations” will allow Maryland Casino to give gambling addicts more access to more money in shorter amounts of time and will allow the Casinos to maintain their records for shorter periods of time. In addition the proposed “Emergency Regulations” will make it harder for the addicted gambler to self report and exclude herself from Maryland Casinos in the future.
Under the Ehrlich Administration, when the Maryland legislature was discussing putting Slot Machines in the race track locations (because there was State sanctioned gambling already going on there) it was the Progressive/Liberals who argued that further legalizing gambling in general and slots in particular would have a devastating effect on poor and minority populations. That money meant for families would be misdirected to the one armed bandits.
In order to protect Maryland children and their families from the unintended consequences of expanded legalized gambling the evil Republicans had to be stopped from passing any form of expanded gambling that included slot machines.
As soon as the Governor’s Office was occupied by a progressive, ultra liberal Democrat, then “Slot’s for Tots” was born. Democrat slots would save education by spending the money raised from the slots on K-12 education in Maryland. Setting aside the fact that not another additional dollar would ever go to education, since for every dollar into Education, from slots, another dollar was taken out of the education funding, slots was put on the ballot and sold to the people of Maryland on a few basic premises.
First the people were promised that the money raised by the State would be used to improve education in Maryland.
It never was used for that purpose.
Second the citizens of Maryland were promised that there would be certain protections put in place to attempt to curtail the ravages of gambling on the families of Marylanders who may have or develop gambling addictions.
The protections against easy access to lots of cash through cash machines on the gambling floor or by writing checks at the Casinos, are the protections now being proposed as being written out of the regulations.
The self help notification procedures are being severely curtailed making it harder for the gambling addict wishing to self exclude them self from being allowed to gamble.
While it may not be the intent of the new regulations, the result will be more gambling addicts losing more money and more people becoming addicted or indebted faster.
While normally, I have a concerns with government over regulating business activities, in this case we have a State sanctioned monopoly being set up with certain restrictions in place under that auspice of protecting the public from predatory practices. I see no reason that those protections should now all be lifted without some assurance that the fears that prompted these regulations in the first place are not still necessary to protect the public.
When the Casino legislation was being passed there was much hoopla over the supposed protections being put into the bill to help protect consumers from too easily over indulging in the State sanctioned gambling.
The State spending on gambling addiction has shown that it is not a priority, since the fund has been robbed of over a million one hundred thousand dollars since 2012.
Fiscal 2010 $0
Fiscal 2011 $ $523,995 (Problem Gambling Study)
Fiscal 2012 $100,000 (additional $950,000 transferred in BRFA to Educational Trust Fund)
Fiscal 2013 $2,531,454 (additional $209,000 transferred to the General Fund)
Fiscal 2014 working $2,826,250
Fiscal 2015 appropriation $4,146,225
I am looking into what the trends are currently with gambling addiction in Maryland and what these emergency regulations are going to mean in respect to those trends.
The proposed “emergency” regulations include but are not limited to C.O.M.A.R. Title 36, Subtitle 03, Chapter 10, Regulations 07 thru 49 and C.O.M.A.R. Title 36, Subtitle 03, Chapter 03, Regulation 07.
A few of the “emergency” changes being proposed consist of increasing the amount of money a gambler can obtain in one withdraw by an additional 300%, from $250 per withdraw to $1,000 per withdraw.
In addition, a gambler can take out 150% more money from the automated teller machines located on the gambling floor per gaming day than previously, moving from $1000 per day withdraw from teller machines located on the gambling floor to $2,500 per day. A subtle but not insignificant change is also in the language prohibiting the excessive amount allowed to be withdrawn. The new regulation seeks to change the prohibiting mandatory language of, “Shall be” to the more discretionary “is”. (COMAR 36.03.03.07)
In addition, under COMAR 36.03.10.20 the amount of a check that the gamblers can cash at the Casino also increase by 100% from $2,500 to $5,000, per gambling day.
Also being added to the regulations is a “this trip only” increase in credit limits. What all “this trip only” language means is unclear at this point. COMAR 36.03.10.24 (n)
One of the more interesting protections that was originally put into the Slots Casino Bill was that gamblers could voluntarily suspend their ability to gamble at Maryland Casinos by submitting a written notification to the Commission. One funny quirk, was that if that person later went in and gambled and was caught they forfeited their winnings to the Casino, but if that same person were caught but had been losing they did not get their losses back, they were also forfeited to the Casino. The House always wins.
Under the proposed “Emergency Regulations” the voluntary suspension letter would be sent to a specific Casino, instead of the Commission. So if a gambler wishes to exclude herself from every Casino they need to write to each one. Obviously this is more burdensome and will be much less effective in keeping those with gambling habits, who are actually trying to stop themselves from gambling, from being successful.
Clearly, the result of these “emergency” regulations is going to be more income for the Casinos and more excessive spending by the gamblers.
The result will be more gambling addicts, greater losses for individuals and Maryland families. The public policy behind these protections and limits was established after public hearings, debate and votes. It is dangerous and will result in unintended consequences to allow these changes.
One additional interesting proposed change is increasing the amount of cash jackpot the gambler can receive from $5,000 to $25,000. Lots of possible reasons for this and I would love to hear the explanation why this needs to be done as an emergency measure.
As a member of the Administrative, Executive, Legislative, Review (A.E.L.R.) Committee, I have requested hearings be held on these new proposed “Emergency Regulations”. I will keep you appraised of developments.
Please share this article with those who may deal with or have an interest in those addicted to or affected by gambling.