County Wants Voice in Slots Process

SNOW HILL- Worcester County needs to be more prepared for slots, one elected official said this week, suggesting the county appoint a committee to make sure the county gets its say.

Commissioner Virgil Shockley asked Tuesday when the county should move on establishing the slots committee required by Maryland law.

“If it’s our responsibility to set the committee up, we need to set the committee up,” said Shockley, before, he added, more plans get made on which the county should have had input. 

Maryland’s slot machine gambling law requires counties hosting slot machine sites to set up a committee to determine what impacts slot machine gambling has on the county and how the local share of slots revenue should be distributed to combat that impact.

“You have people who want to have input on what’s going on,” said Shockley. “Things are getting ready to change here.”

An organized response to slots is not just about spending money, Shockley felt. Commissioner Judy Boggs said she hesitated to appoint a committee now, with essentially nothing to do for months. People who are going to be affected by the arrival of slots should have a say in the planning, Shockley said.

The state has already held an open house on slots road plans, with hundreds in attendance, and plans to hold another November 17, Boggs said.

 “How does an ordinary person get to the people they need to get to, to have any influence or even their comments heard on what’s going onto Route 589?” Shockley asked.

The slots committee could handle both duties, representing Worcester County in the planning stages and handling revenue distribution later,  Shockley said.

Boggs countered that all interested parties can attend an open house session, where all comments are noted. The state can hold all the meetings they want, Shockley said, but they are only going to work with a handful of people.

“We don’t even know if this legislation is going to be tinkered with again,” Boggs said.

No Worcester County citizens’ committee is going to have clout in Annapolis, Commissioner Bud Church said. However, Shockley said the county’s wishes regarding slots can and should be heard in the state capital. 

“If I actually believed that I would not be sitting here as an elected official,” Shockley said. “Sometimes you have to scream and yell but you can make a difference.”