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Are mobile casino games an economy booster, or addiction risk? Maryland lawmakers debate

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BALTIMORE — The possibility of playing casino table games on mobile devices is under debate in Annapolis, as lawmakers weigh the potential financial benefits against the risks of increased gambling addiction in Maryland.

Some state legislators argue that mobile casino games could bring millions in revenue. Senator Ron Watson, representing District 23, is a proponent of this move.

“We should be able to see an additional $300 million in revenue because of iGaming,” Watson said.

However, the proposed expansion is raising concerns among casino employees. Nancy Stack, an Ocean Downs employee, noted a significant drop in patronage with the advent of online betting.

“It went from 10 people waiting on a machine to nobody, once it went online,” Stack said.

Echoing Stack’s concerns, Tracy Lingo of Unite Here Local 7 highlighted the impact on bar traffic at Ocean Downs.

“After sports betting passed, the bar has been a ghost town,” Lingo stated.

Despite fears that online gambling could reduce in-person casino visits, Watson insists the expansion could create job opportunities, similar to those in Nevada.

“In Nevada, they have created a studio – a casino with no patrons, where 700 jobs are for dealers to deal live games,” Watson explained.

Beyond economic and employment considerations, the expansion of mobile gambling raises concerns about potential increases in gambling addiction. Carin Miller from the Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling warned of the implications.

“I think it’s a dangerous slippery slope,” Miller said. “With the increase in sports betting, iGaming could put many more Maryland residents at risk of addiction.”

A survey by MDbetting.com indicates strong public support for online table gaming, with 75% of respondents favoring legalization. The debate in Annapolis continues as stakeholders from various sectors weigh in on the future of gambling in Maryland.

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