The economic and social impacts of racetrack video lottery terminals on the city of Baltimore and Prince George’s County

Abstract

The goal of this study is to inform political decision-makers and community stakeholders for the 2004 Maryland legislative session and beyond. One of the most prominent aspects of placing VLTs at racetracks is that the benefits of expanded gaming will be diffused across the many citizens of Maryland, while the costs will be disproportionately concentrated in the communities surrounding new VLT venues. Research suggests that much of the negative impact of VLTs would fall on Baltimore City and on Prince George's County. The social impacts of expanded gaming in Baltimore City and in Prince George's County would be multi-dimensional. Studies conducted throughout the United States have correlated gaming with heightened rates of problem and pathological gambling, higher rates of crime, elevated rates of personal/household bankruptcy, and strained personal and family relationships. Gaming machines such as video lottery terminals are particularly addictive. Research indicates that problem gamblers spend significantly more on video gaming than on any other form of gambling. OSG's analysis of demographic trends in Baltimore City and in Prince George's County suggest that neighborhoods immediately surrounding Pimlico and those bordering the District of Columbia in Prince George's County would be the most adversely affected by the expansion of gaming. Senate Bill 322 would create a Compulsive Gambling Fund that assesses a $390 fee per VLT annually. The fund would be used to establish a 24-hour hotline, provide counseling and support services. With 11,500 VLTs, the Fund would have $4.485 million at its disposal annually.

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