Under current practice, the money generated by gambling is being used to help fund the education spending law — not add to it. That is likely to continue to be the case going forward.
This year, legislative staff anticipate $286 million in gambling revenue will be used to help fund $5.8 billion in state education aid to local school systems. That means the state has $286 million that it otherwise would have spent on education that can be spent on other things.
If Question 7 passes, the amount of gambling revenue earmarked for education is expected to continue to climb, meaning considerably more dollars will be freed up for other purposes.
Proponents argue that the gambling money makes planned spending on education more secure because legislators will be less likely to change the funding law. But as of now, if Question 7 passes, the total level of spending on education is not expected to rise beyond where it would be otherwise.
Would casino owners get tax breaks if Question 7 passes?
Under current law, most casino owners get to keep 33 percent of slots revenue generated at their facilities. The remaining percentage is often referred to as the “tax rate.”
If Question 7 passes and a new casino opens in Prince George’s, casino owners would pay a lower “tax rate” — but state analysts predict the amount of slots play at the other large casinos would drop because of the new competition.
Under the new law, changes in the operator share would differ casino by casino in what lawmakers said was an attempt to be fair to everyone.
At Maryland Live in Anne Arundel County, the casino closest to Prince George’s, the operator would get to keep an additional 8 percent of slots revenue. The operator could also petition state regulators for an additional 2 percent.
All casinos would also benefit from offering tables games. If Question 7 passes, the operators would keep 80 percent of the revenue from those games.
Have other questions? Send reporter John Wagner an e-mail and he’ll attempt to answer them online in coming days.