A group of religious and community leaders in Prince George’s County led a rally Tuesday where speakers argued that a casino would do the jurisdiction more harm than good.
“If it’s really good, why don’t they have it in Montgomery County?” asked community activist Arthur A. Turner Jr. at a gathering sponsored by the Community Empowerment Coalition in opposition to Question 7.
The ballot measure would authorize Las Vegas-style table games at Maryland’s existing five slots locations, as well as a new Prince George’s casino, most likely at National Harbor or Rosecroft Raceway.
Other speakers warned of the “social disease” of gambling, argued that the jobs created at a casino wouldn’t pay as well as promised and said that the owner would be the main beneficiary.
“You’re voting ‘yes’ to billionaires getting richer,” said the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Weaver, pastor at Greater Mount Nebo A.M.E. Church in Bowie.
The event, which drew close to 100 people, was more closely watched by the media Tuesday because of a report Monday that attendees were being offered up to $40 to attend in a Craigslist ad.
Organizers continued to disavow any involvement with the ad, and when a TV reporter asked the crowd if they had been paid to attend, people started chanting, “No! No! No!”
“It’s a trick used to divert attention from the good here today,” Turner said of the ad, which also appeared on ClassifiedAds.com. Turner did not specifically identify who he thinks is behind the ad or present any evidence to back up the claim.
None of a dozen people interviewed after the rally broke up said they had been paid to attend.
Speakers at the rally also included Gerron S. Levi, a former delegate who ran unsuccessfully in 2010 against now-County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D).
“People say they want to gamble. Take a bus somewhere,” Levi said at the rally, which was held outside the county building where Baker works.
Baker has been a leading champion of National Harbor as a casino site.