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Maryland voters approve slots referendum

5 November 2008

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland -- As reported by The (Baltimore) Sun: "Marylanders voted overwhelmingly yesterday to legalize slot-machine gambling in the state after a rancorous campaign, dealing Gov. Martin O'Malley a ballot-box success and settling a debate over which politicians had deadlocked for years.

"The constitutional amendment to allow 15,000 slot machines at five locations around the state appeared headed for easy passage late last night.

"O'Malley, a Democrat, championed slots as a way to plug the state's budget shortfalls, made worse by a declining economy, while opponents argued that expanding gambling would invite crime and addiction into the most vulnerable communities and burden taxpayers with increased social costs. The final say fell to voters after state lawmakers decided last year to punt the decision to a referendum.

"Voter opinions varied from liberal, anti-slots enclaves in the Washington suburbs to parts of Baltimore City that were more receptive to gambling and to rural areas where workers in the horse-racing industry said their jobs depend on slots revenue earmarked for purses. Many voters also had a personal stake in the outcome of the referendum because casinos could be built in or near their neighborhoods.

"The slots proposal won wide support regardless of demographics such as age, sex, race, income and party affiliation, according to exit polls. The survey was conducted by Edison Media Research for a consortium of media outlets including The Baltimore Sun. Results are based on 997 interviews with voters upon leaving 20 polling places..."

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