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Baltimore report pushes legalized casinos

4 January 2008

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- As reported by the Baltimore Sun: "A mayoral task force report says one of the best long-term ways to reduce Baltimore's highest-in-the-state property tax rate would be to use revenue from legalized gambling - not just the slot machines currently under debate but full-scale casinos.

"State leaders have spent a decade debating slot machine gambling, only to decide to let citizens settle the issue in November's election. Table games have long been considered a political non-starter in Maryland.

"But the group of 26 business and civic leaders convened by Mayor Sheila Dixon says the city could knock 17 cents off its property tax rate with revenue from casinos. Table games bring in more tourists, it reported, and more wealthy players - both of which could drive up revenue used to ease the property tax rate.

"But even the suggestion of table games in Baltimore - one of more than a dozen ideas the committee considered - could thrust the city into what is expected to be a divisive and hard-fought campaign over slots.

"...Relying on gambling revenue to reduce property taxes underscores how difficult a task the city might have as it attempts to cut a stubborn property tax rate that officials believe has stifled growth by sending residents and businesses to the suburbs.

"...In last year's special General Assembly session, lawmakers approved a constitutional amendment that will allow voters to decide whether to place slots parlors in five locations, including Baltimore. State officials estimated the city would receive local impact fees of about $12 million in 2012 and $19 million in 2013..."

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