Thursday, February 01, 2007

Slots in Anne Arundel? Thank Janet Owens

Today's Sun answers a question I've had for some time: Why are those contraptions in local bingo parlors that look like slot machines and sound like slot machines not considered slot machines under state law? Turns out a measure introduced in 2005 by then-Executive Janet Owens, and passed by the County Council 6-1 (only Barbara Samorajczyk voted against) opened the door for the pseudo-slots.

Surely, it had nothing to do with the fact that Ms. Owens received "campaign contributions of $2,000 apiece in 2004 from the owners of Delta Bingo and Bingo World, and she shares South County roots with the Wayson family, which owns the third [bingo] hall."

The legislation gave the Director of the Department of Inspections and Permitting, then Spurge Eismeier, the power to approve video bingo machines, which he did. As his Department turned a blind eye to homes and additions being built across the County without permits, Mr. Eismeier approved four models of video "pull-tab" machines.

Dumbfounded by the actual impact of the bill that he had voted for, Severn Republican Ed Middlebrooks offered, "I don't think you are going to talk to anyone who will say that that was the intended consequence."

If that's the case, it shouldn't be at all difficult to muster the votes to overturn this slots-enabling legislation, and put one more vestige of Janet Owens' favoritism behind us.

[UPDATE 2/2/07: The Sun's piece prompts Leopold to seek second opinions on pseudo-slots venues in the County.]

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