Joe’s Journal

Ms. P pontificates again

Posted:  Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 8:30am

“I thought I looked just smashing in my Wonder Woman Halloween costume. Don’t you agree?” Ms. Pig said the other day as she eyed the tiny Snickers bars scattered on the front seat of my car.

“I know it was a bit risqué, but it helped set off my curves. Most folks who drove past my perch on Route 27, just across the street from Joan Rittall's house, honked and waved to me. To tell the truth, I saw some of them wink at me too,” she said.

The other day, I stopped to chat with the “Porcine Princess of the Peninsula” to gather her insight on the coming referendum elections set for Tuesday, Nov. 7. Right off the bat, the guru of all things political let me know in no uncertain terms that she is not against gambling.

“Let’s face it,” she said. “Everyone bets on the Super Bowl. Some bet on the World Series and, of course, we all have our picks for the NCAA basketball tournament. What is a game of golf without a Nassau? I am told there is a men’s  bridge group that even bets a whole dollar each week,” she said.

“I guess that means you would recommend voting Yes on Question 1,” I said.

“Nay, Nay. Not so fast Uncle Fake News. Unlike you, I have done my homework.”

“So, what do you think?” I asked, knowing she would just keep rattling on without being prompted.

“Two things, Grasshopper. First, it looks like the fix is in. Second, it is a bad deal for taxpayers.”

“Let me explain. You see all those yard signs and TV ads saying how a casino in York County would be a boon for us all. You know, lots of new bucks for education, old folks, and veterans. Jeepers Creepers, everyone is for those things.”

“They don’t mention the word gambling or casino at all. Their idea is to get us to think we are voting for good causes and not think about slot machines and blackjack and other ‘table games.’”

“The best wrinkle in this referendum question would require the operators to send just 39 percent of the slot machine ‘take’ to the state for distribution.”

Ms. P looked me in the eye and lowered her voice. “Listen closely, elderly news person, the casino gang would be required to distribute 39 percent of the ‘net’ slot machine revenue, not the ‘gross.’ Do you wonder who keeps the books?

“Like they say on TV, But wait, there’s more.”

She waved at a passing pickup truck and said while 10 percent of the slot machine net will go to K-12 education, and higher education (3 percent), the biggest chunk (18 percent) will go to support the horse racing industry. Just three percent will go to reduce local property taxes; other causes funded are drug education (1 percent), elderly old and disabled folks (1 percent), and Indian tribes (1 percent).

As for the “table games,” 84 percent of the “net” will go into the casino operator’s pocket, with the rest of the pot (16 percent) going to children’s education (9 percent), veterans assistance (2 percent) and the local municipality (2 percent). Three percent goes to the state gambling board.

Bottom line is that the casino operator would get to keep 84 percent of the net from the tables and 41 percent of the net from slots.

“Now, listen up pal,” she said. “Here is the kicker. We are talking real money here. The official state estimate of the gross slot machine income is $659 million with a net of $61 million.”

Under the terms of the referendum, the attorney general ruled that only one casino operator is eligible to obtain a gambling license for York County. That is the owner of the Bangor Historic Track, a company known as Capital Seven LLC, a limited liability company formed in Nevada and owned by Shawn Scott.

“So, if you vote yes on Question 1, you will not only give Mr. Scott a big pile of cash and a smaller pile to various causes, you will cost the state thousands of bucks.”

“What do you mean, Ms. P? I thought the state would get a lot of cash in the deal,” I asked.

She smiled at my question and said current law bars another casino within 100 miles of other casinos. This provision would put the kibosh on that.

State revenue folks estimate Scott’s York county casino would cut about 20 percent from the revenues generated by the Oxford Casino. That means it could cost the state $6.36 million in lost revenue.

“So, Mr. Columnist for a tiny newspaper, a vote yes on Question 1 is a bad deal all around,” she said.

“Now, are you going to eat those tiny Snickers bars?”