Ministers, community activists and the head of the NAACP in Prince George’s delivered a clear message Tuesday to the County Council: Bringing slot machines to Rosecroft Raceway would be a scourge on the community.
“We do not need more of the kind of pain now being foisted on our congregations and communities because of the economic slowdown,” said Jonathan Weaver, pastor of Geater Mt. Nebo AME Church in Bowie, and the leader of a group of about 150 religious leaders opposed to slots.
The council is considering a bill sponsored by council member Eric Olson (D-College Park) that would ban slots in the county.
Too many residents, eager for a quick financial cure, would turn to slots and lose more, Weaver said. He was joined in urging the council to ban slots by Bob Ross, head of the county NAACP; former county NAACP president June White Dillard; Venus Bethea and Arthur Turner, community activists and unsuccessful council candidates.
Penn National, Rosecroft’s owner, which recently reopened the Fort Washington track, earlier released a study asserting that building a full-fledged casino at Rosecroft would pump about $2.5 billion into the Maryland economy during construction and the first five years of operation.
Joseph Gaskins, head of a Prince George’s business group, urged the council to allow slots at Rosecroft, saying that money that could be spent in Prince George’s will instead be funneled to other communities in Maryland that already allow gambling..
“That is an improper decision in my opinion,” Gaskins said.