On April 14th, 2008, a problem has come up over the role of Comptroller Peter Franchot’s role in the campaign against the slot machines in Maryland, with some anti-gaming groups questioning on whether his high political profile could help or hurt the anti-gaming effort in Maryland. It is a burden that both sides are worrying about as the campaign worth millions of dollars takes into place in the months before the November vote regarding on the question on whether or not gambling should be legalized.
Governor Martin O’Malley recently said that his ability to implement his plans over the coming years relies heavily on the approval of the slots proposal. The idea that the public face of the anti-slot campaign could be Peter Franchot, who has publicly clashed with Governor O’Malley, has led to some talks that the vote could turn out to be a gubernatorial primary face-off between two Democrats.
Aaron Meisner, the leader of StopSlots Maryland, a grass roots organization that has spent a lot of years forming a coalition of slots critics from religious groups, business, and communities around the area, said that Peter Franchot is a questionable individual in some areas. He added that Franchot certainly carries some prestige but they want to be clear that this is not about Gov. O’Malley or Peter Franchot; this is about the effect of the slot machines in the state.
A spokesperson for Franchot, Joseph Shapiro commented that Franchot has been very careful on his dealings with StopSlots but he is an official of the state, which means that his every move will be carefully scrutinize by the people around him. As a result of the special session of the Assembly last year, voters will vote in November 2008 on whether to amend or not to amend the constitution of Maryland that will allow 15,000 slot machines to bet offer at five locations in the state, which is Baltimore, Allegany, Anne Arundel, Cecil and Worcester.
The five locations is expected to contribute around $600 million to $800 million in the state treasury. Some members of the StopSlots movement are worried that the November referendum could turn into some sort of pre-primary event for 2010 between O’Malley and Franchot.