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WMAL: With Record Gambling Revenue, Maryland Comptroller Still Unconvinced

(BETHESDA, MD — WMAL) Comptroller Peter Franchot, Maryland’s top tax-collector, is no fan of state revenue from gambling and calls it regressive.

Maryland received $1.252 billion in state contributions from gambling – up 12.1 percent from last year. The Maryland Lottery reported sales of over $2 Billion and paid out an all-time record of $1.247 billion in prizes. This, however, isn’t enough to convince Franchot, who spoke to WMAL after a “Maryland Tax-Free Week” event in Bethesda, MD.

“It’s socially regressive,” Franchot said. “It preys upon people who become addicted and spend inordinate amounts of their income on gambling. It creates a lot of dysfunction in the state.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan took a different approach, saying that the nearly half a billion dollars gambling revenue provided to the Education Trust Fund is a benefit both to the State and schools.

Franchot strongly disagreed with this sentiment saying, “Gambling is not for kids. Gambling is for people in Las Vegas that make a lot of money off of individuals in Maryland.”

MGM National Harbor, a massive casino in the Maryland portion of the D.C. area, did not return a request for comment.

Franchot has, in the past, worked with the legislature to allow certain types of gambling – even if he personally finds it distasteful.

“We were given power by the legislature to promulgate rules and regulations for Fantasy sports gambling,” Franchot said. “We did that a year ago – even though I’m not a big fan of that.”

Now Franchot’s anti-gambling stance may come under pressure again after a 6-3 Supreme Court ruling that allows states such as Maryland to potentially legalize sports betting.

The State legislature considered holding a special session to take advantage of the ruling, but Franchot doesn’t want lawmakers to move too quickly.

He says he isn’t opposed to the idea outright, but wants Maryland to wait a little while. “We should just look at how the other states fare and maybe a couple years from now, if the Legislature wants to do it, they can do it with best practices,” he said.

As gambling begins to provide more and more money to the State, it doesn’t seem that there is any amount of revenue that would make Franchot support the expansion of gambling wholeheartedly.

“I would just as soon raise our revenues the old-fashioned way.”

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