OCEAN CITY – Local business owners, citizens, and interested parties gathered on Saturday morning for the Stop Slots Rally in Ocean City an effort to send the clear message that many people of Ocean City do not want slots infiltrating the resort town.
The rally, held at the end of the Boardwalk at the Inlet, was organized in conjunction with several other Stop Slots Rallies across the State of Maryland on Saturday. Rallies were held in Frederick, Little Orleans and Upper Marlboro in Prince George’s County. Another slots rally will also be held in Baltimore City on Friday. With the special session to discuss and ultimately approve a reform package that aims at addressing an estimated structural deficit of $1.7 billion scheduled to begin on Oct. 29, it has become imperative for slots opponents to come together as a cohesive unit in the fight against slots.
According to Melanie Pursel, executive director of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, over 75 people gathered at the Inlet on Saturday to garner more information about the adverse affects of slots and to voice their own opinions on the pitfalls of slots.
According to the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling (NCALG), which is working in conjunction with Stop Slots Maryland, gambling runs the severe risk of causing addiction, increasing bankruptcy, crime, suicides and divorce, causing damages to the economy, cannibalizing jobs, corrupting politics, and stimulating illegal gambling. These social issues were emphasized on Saturday, as several speakers spoke to the reality of the imposing threats.
According to the NCALG, the addiction rates double within 50 miles of a casino and typically seizes the lives of 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent of the adult population.
Reverend Tom McKelvey of the Community Church of Ocean Pines spoke to the dangers of addiction that slots could bring to our area. McKelvey referenced his time spent hosting a gamblers anonymous group through the church saying, “for the first time I saw what gambling can do in the lives of individuals and families.”
McKelvey noted the fallout of addiction and the threat of increased crime and poverty as well.
“In terms of slots themselves and pulling down that one arm bandit, it is so highly addictive, it is that promise of easy money and the promise of easy money is a false promise,” he said, emphasizing the United Methodist Churches firm opposition to slots in Maryland.
Dr. Leonard Berger, owner and founder of the Clarion Resort Hotel, also spoke to the dangers of addiction and the promise of easy money.
“We here in Ocean City are a family town. We do not want to send the wrong message. There is no easy way to riches,” he said.
Berger maintained that slots would not benefit Ocean City, but would rather have an adverse affect on the community.
“You hear about people that want slot machines, you hear politicians say, ‘this is going to solve all our problems,’ but the funny thing is none of them want it in their own neighborhoods,” Berger said, also pointing out the false promises of easy money from politicians.
Bill Ochse, founder of The Kite Loft, spoke of false gambling promises that have reverberated throughout Maryland in the past. Ochse asked the crowd to think back to 1963, when politicians promised that lottery tickets would be sold on Fridays only and that all of the revenues would go to education. Ochse paralleled the false promises heard then to the false promises of easy money and “balancing the deficit” that is being heard now.
“I don’t want people leaving Ocean City with the slogan, ‘what happens in OC stays in OC’,” Ochse said, drawing a comparison between Ocean City and the gambling mecca of Las Vegas.
For the full story, see The Dispatch on Friday morning.