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Worcester County Non-Profit Organizations Pushes for Slot Machines

A proposal that would permit service clubs and fraternal organizations in Worcester County to operate slot machines to raise funds for charity will be reviewed by state legislators in the 2010 legislative session, the 3rd year the proposal will be up for talks. Previous slots bills failed to pass the state legislature in the past two years.

With the ongoing economic crisis, Sarge Garlitz, an adjutant of the American Legion Post 166 in Ocean City, said on January 3rd, 2010 that his group and others need the revenue that the slot machines will produce now more than ever.

Garlitz said that they just do not have the money to accomplish what the four pillars of the veterans need: take care of veterans, mentor youth, national security and spread patriotism. Delegate Jim Mathias (Democrat-38B-Worcester), a sponsor of the slots bill, agrees with Garlitz.

Mathias said that as the local government contracted because of the economic crisis, they have less amount of money to fund civic needs in the community. He added that the need for the slots bill is higher more than ever.

Mathias and Delegate Norman Conway (Democrat-38B-Wicomico), have pre-filed a bill that would place Worcester to the list of counties that permit fraternal organizations-such as Veterans of Foreign Wars, Elks, American Legion and Knights of Columbus-to offer slot machines.

No more than five slot machines can be installed at each club and fifty percent of the slots revenue must go to charity. Worcester is the only county on the Eastern shore that does not permit slot machines.

However, Senator J. Lowell Stoltzfus (Republican-38-Somerset) said that he was not sure if the slots bill would be approve this year.

While the House of Delegate has always supported the slots initiative, the proposal has never made it to the Senate floor for a decision.

Stoltzfus said that the slots proposal did not go through previously because Senate President Mike Miller stated that he would not let it through unless they place a high 20% tax on the slots earnings. He said that he decided that condition would be unacceptable.

The tax would be place on service organizations in all of the other counties where slot machines in the clubs are allowed, making the slots bill a tough sell for lawmakers from those districts.

Stoltzfus said that he was not opposed to permitting the clubs to have slot machines but he doubted whether the slots initiative as Senate President Mike Miller wants it will be approve. Garlitz said that the situation in the legislature is very disappointing.

In the upcoming session of the legislature, the Worcester County delegation will also review a statewide ban of the hallucinogenic herb salvia.

Mathias said that it is very similar to what they had in 2009 but he thinks that their case will be improved because of the approval of the bill in Worcester County and Ocean City. He said that some bills take a number of years to be approved and he is trying to improve the chance of the bill being approved sooner rather than later.


Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Alex Van Der Butz