Unprepared For Local Slots Impact Funds?

Initial revenue numbers for the Casino at Ocean Downs were released last week, and it confirms a lot of money is being spent over on Route 589.

That’s surely no surprise, but the sheer volume of dollars flowing through the shore’s first casino did shock some. In 28 days, according to a Maryland Lottery report, more than $3 million was generated by the 750 video lottery terminals, or just about $107,000 per day. The average revenue per machine per day came in at $144.

According to state law, roughly $1.5 million of the revenue will now go to the state’s Educational Trust Fund; the casino will receive about $1 million; the state’s horseracing purse account gets $212,479; $100,000 will be given to the county in the form of a grant; $60,000 to Maryland Lottery; $45,000 to support small business; $33,000 to Ocean City; $16,000 to Berlin; and $16,000 to Ocean Pines.

Although the numbers are impressive, particularly in light of the fact it’s January in a resort area, what’s most disturbing to us is state officials, in general, do not appear to be organized at all in disbursing these funds, and local officials in Worcester County have even less of a clue of what they are going to do with these funds when they are received.

This is unacceptable, and a fire needs to be sparked under all involved here. This money needs to get out into the communities as soon as possible, and a delay is unwarranted and could prove costly to governments trying to formalize their budgets for the next fiscal year.

According to an article in The Daily Record last week, the Hollywood Casino Perryville, the first to open in Maryland, has generated $35.3 million in revenue, but the town of Perryville has yet to receive any funds. Cecil County has received some funding, but none since November from the state.

Cecil, like Worcester, appointed a council to determine where the funds are to be spent back in September. Yet, it has not met. That sounds familiar, as Worcester has a development council appointed as well, but it’s not met publicly yet either.

There are two primary concerns here — why is it taking so long for the funds to be disbursed from the state and how come the local counties are not prepared and ready to distribute them?

The Daily Record article reported Worcester has not even provided the state with bank account information so it can receive the money when it’s available for allocation, as of Feb. 10.

The local government needs to get with it and the development council must get together and formulate a plan for these funds. This money needs to get out in the community immediately. We don’t understand why there’s no sense of urgency, and that needs to change immediately.