Needless to say there is a very big election coming up that will get a lot of people out to the polls on November 6th. Outside of the race for president, Question 7 on the ballot might be the biggest priority for Marylanders. Question 7 is a bill that, if passed, would add table games to all five Maryland casinos and could potentially allow a sixth casino in Prince Georges County.
Table games has to pass in Maryland to go into effect, but in order for PG County to get a casino license it has to pass in PG County and statewide. If PG County is awarded a casino, it cannot open until the Baltimore Casino has been open at least 2.5 years. So at the earliest PG County could have a casino in 2016/2017 as the Baltimore casino is not projected to open until mid 2014.
Baltimore’s casino license has been awarded to a group of investors and will be operated by Caesars Entertainment and will either be a Harrahs or Horseshoe brand casino. This group is currently putting plans and funding together and is likely to break ground in the spring of 2014 on a casino and parking garage on Russell St. south of M&T Bank Stadium.
So first, let’s take a look at the two pools of money that will be generated by the Baltimore casino before looking at the potential of table games. Those two pools of money will be the slots revenue and the property taxes and lease of the casino which sits on city-owned land.
Slots Money Breakdown:
For every dollar lost in a slot machine by a gambler in Baltimore, the state will get roughly $.50 of that dollar. The majority of that money will go into the Maryland Education Trust Fund, but also less than 2% will go to the gaming commission and 5% will go to local impact funds. Those local impact funds will go towards public safety, infrastructure, traffic calming, parking issues and housing issues in the surrounding neighborhoods.
A committee will meet with the city of Baltimore to advise how those funds are spent. The committee will be represented by Wesport, Pigtown, SBNA, Sharp Leadenhall, Federal Hill and Federal Hill West. Other communities like Riverside and Federal Hill South will have an advisory role. The committee will also feature two legislators who are likely to be Senator Bill Ferguson and one of the three delegates from the area, plus the council person for the area where the casino is located, Ed Reisinger.
The projections for these local impact funds is $18 million per year, but projections are just projections. Needless to say, there will be a large pool of new funds that can be put to great use in the area. A small portion of the local impact funds statewide will also benefit the Park Heights neighborhood because it is located by Pimlico race track. The city has already begun redevelopment efforts in Park Heights with the local impact funds generated from Perryille and Ocean Downs.
Property Taxes and Land Lease Breakdown:
Many of you have heard that money from the Baltimore casino will go towards lowering Baltimore’s property tax rate. The rate is currently $2.26 per thousand which is more than twice as much as any other jurisdiction in the state. The casino operators will lease this land from the City of Baltimore and will also pay property taxes on the land and that Baltimore City revenue will go towards lowering the property tax rate. The allocation of this revenue is written in Baltimore legislation and and will lower the property tax rate $.20 by 2020, at that point making the property tax rate $2.06. A small percentage will also be going to Baltimore City Public Schools.
Table Games Money Breakdown:
Keep in mind that all of this is pending the result of the Question 7 and will go into effect statewide in 2013 if passed, but will not go into effect at all if it doesn’t pass. And of course Baltimore will not generate any funds until it actually has a casino built.
For every dollar lost on a table in Baltimore City, $.80 will go the casino operator and $.20 will go to the State of Maryland. Of that $.20, $.15 will go the the Maryland Education Trust Fund and $.05 will stay in the City of Baltimore. That $.05 will be spent on Baltimore City school construction and recreation and parks. It is projected that Baltimore City Public Schools need $2.5 billion in improvements. The money could also go to rec centers, which are attached to many schools.
The obvious main beneficiary in Maryland gambling will be education as the Maryland Education Trust Fund will receive 15% from table games, 43% from slots, as well as additional revenue just for Baltimore City Public Schools from table games and the land lease and property taxes. That said, South Baltimore, Park Heights and all of the other areas surrounding Maryland casinos will also benefit greatly from the local impact funds.