Third lawsuit a potential jackpot

gamingmachineimageI wrote in today’s paper about the third lawsuit filed against Scott D. Shellenberger in his role as Baltimore County State’s Attorney.

That begs the question: What are the other two lawsuits? Glad you asked. The first one, filed in April 2008, came from a prisoner in Cumberland seeking to waive a filing fee prepayment, a request that was promptly denied.

The other one, filed last May, remains open and could have widespread ramifications. An Arbutus distributor of gaming devices has asked a judge to declare pull tab gaming machines legal in Baltimore County.  Acme Amusements argues the machines are not slots in part because the element of chance comes from the pull tabs, not the machine containing them.

“The machines at issue in this case do not read the pull tabs or any tickets electronically, do not alert the user to a winning or losing ticket and do not tabulate a player’s winnings or losses,” the company states. “As such, they fall outside the definition of ‘slot machines’ and are not illegal devices.”

The company cites the Court of Appeals’ Chesapeake Amusement decision in 2001 to explain why it proceeded with its declaratory judgment action. The defendant in that underlying case was the Calvert County State’s Attorney.

Tim Maloney, Acme’s lawyer, said he expects lawyers from the Office of the Attorney General to argue the case during a hearing scheduled for April.

“If we have the money, we must spend the money”

O’ took notice of the most recent piece from our Editorial Advisory Board.

In, “Slots won’t help if state can’t live within its means,” the board makes the argument that slots revenue would do little to solve Maryland’s budget issues:

“The truth is, no matter how much revenue slots produce, inevitably the state’s slots revenues will be insufficient to satisfy all the promises that have been and are being made about ‘investments’ in Maryland, its economy, its schools and its people…

“Slot revenues will only mask the fact that Maryland is living beyond its means. Even if slots are approved, after only a few years, more revenue will be necessary to meet all of the expectations that have been raised by the promise of the river of slots revenue.”

O’Malley Watch boils down the state’s problem to this: “There is a dangerous concept in Government: If we have the money, we must spend the money.” Maryland certainly seems to be suffering from this ailment.

If you haven’t seen it yet, read the board’s article from Monday’s edition of Maryland Lawyer.

JOE BACCHUS, Web Specialist

Polls, polls, polls

There’ve been a few notable Baltimore Sun polls released this week, including one that found the majority of Marylanders polled favor legalizing slots, one that found Gov. O’Malley’s job approval rating dipping into the 30s post-special session, and another that revealed 57 percent of Marylanders support the death penalty.

Well, here’s the latest poll on a controversial issue: most voters in Maryland support some form of legalized same sex unions.

The poll shows 19 percent support gay marriage while 39 percent support civil unions; 31 percent of those polled oppose either form of same-sex unions.

Would you have expected these poll results to unfold as they have? How much faith do you place in this data?

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor