The Washington Post

GOP hopeful Hogan decries fees on arcade machines as he tours Ocean City boardwalk

Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan, center, poses for a picture at a clam bake in Crisfield last month. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

. — Maryland Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan no doubt hopes his luck is better come November than it was Friday morning during two attempts at playing “the claw” at arcades on the boardwalk here.

Hogan, an Anne Arundel County businessman, came nowhere close to winning on his first try at the game, in which competitors try to grab a prize with a claw-like device in a booth. His second attempt was far more respectable, but still unsuccessful.

Hogan was on the boardwalk in a show of solidarity with arcade owners, who are mobilizing against new state regulations — and in some cases, new fees — on their games.

“These guys we’re running against, they’re trying to shut these things down with new regulations,” Hogan told a family he met as he prepared to address reporters on the issue.

The chief “guy” to which Hogan is referring is Anthony G. Brown, the state’s lieutenant governor for the past eight years and the Democratic nominee for governor this fall.

Both Hogan and Brown had separate events planned in Ocean City on Friday in conjunction with the annual Maryland Association of Counties summer conference. The pair are scheduled to appear at a candidates’ forum on Saturday in front of the county leaders.

The regulations in question have been proposed by state lottery officials, who were tasked by the General Assembly to regulate “electronic gaming devices.” As part of that effort, annual fees of $50 per machine would be imposed on operators of skill-based games that offer a chance to win a prize with one play that has a value of $30 or more.

Several of “the claw” games featured at local arcades fit that definition, according to operators.

Addressing reporters, Hogan called the regulations “outrageous” and pledged to stop them if elected governor. He said they are part of an assault by the current administration on small businesses in Maryland.

“This administration has been openly hostile to small business, and that’s one of the reasons I’m running for governor,” Hogan said.

Hogan said he could understand their plight because he is a small business owner — he operates a sizable real-estate firm — and noted that he owns a condominium on the Ocean City boardwalk.

As he strolled the boardwalk after his remarks, Hogan was drawn to one of “the claws” at the Fun City arcade.

“Apparently I’m not too good at this,” he said after coming up empty-handed.

His second attempt, at an arcade further down the boardwalk, nearly resulted in success. In any event, Hogan said, “I’m trying to help them stay in business.”

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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