Revenues from Gambling in Maryland Benefit Casinos Instead of Schools

Remember the great recession of 2008 and the referendum on legalizing slot machines in Maryland which was successfully passed in the midst of that troubling period? Back then, voters were convinced that they were helping set up a new source of state revenue which would boost education funding. While making gambling legal has generated money and so has likely prevented additional tax burdens or budget restrictions, it has in fact done very little to support state-financed education.

Four years later, the 2012 decision on expanding the gaming industry by allowing table games did not lead to more aid for public schools, either. Voters were let down by the misleading promise that Maryland would be the beneficiary of the largest share of gambling revenue of any state to support education.

Casino proceeds hardly cover 10% of finance allocated to public schools by state law. The percentage dedicated to the Education Trust Fund has been reduced from approximately 50% to 31% as of present, and the trend is likely to continue in the same direction. With hindsight, the 2008 choice may have been the least harmful one but it is worth remembering the principle that the house always wins.

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