SNIDER: Maryland bets on an old shell game urging 'Yes for 2'


The oldest politician's trick is saying money from a controversial project will go for education. Why, only a monster would not support children.

Well, the Maryland roadside signs saying "Yes for 2" are to approve sports betting on the Nov. 3 ballot. After all, the money is going to education. Just like casinos when approved in 2008.

Well, Maryland either has the smartest kids in the world or somebody's lying, cheating and stealing. And, I haven't seen many young Einsteins lately.

Nearly $3 billion in casino revenues were generated for the state's Education Trust Fund from 2011-18, according to WAMU. However, I rely on the old saying, "Figures don't lie, but liars can figure" to explain why schools aren't better. It seems the state politicians just divert other funds from the education budget so yes, $3 billion went in but at least $2 billion was simply replacing existing funds.

Listen, Marylanders have been sold this lie since becoming the first state in the country to have a lottery in 1973. It was supposed to pay for schools. No more real estate taxes. Yeah, how’s that worked out for everyone?

All this said, Maryland needs to approve sports wagering if only in self-defense. It's not a morality question anymore. It's about keeping money in state. New Jersey recently surpassed Las Vegas as the biggest sports wagering area with more than $1 billion in September. A lot of that money comes from New York, where someone in Manhattan is only a 20-minute subway ride from a New Jersey betting parlor.

The District has an app on your cell phone to wager. The pandemic shutdowns have skewed money projections, but it's going to do well. Maryland will do well, especially with Virginia not wagering yet on sports. But, Virginia is building casinos closer to Washington and Maryland. How many years will it be before there's a casino by the Woodrow Wilson Bridge? The over/under is three. How long before sports wagering? Not long.

While taking no position on whether sports wagering is wrong, I proceed with a warning – it will change your love of sports. In fact, it will diminish it maybe to the point where you stop watching games.

People don't come to racetracks to watch horses run. They love to bet on them. Oh, anyone can appreciate a great horse like Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, but horse racing without wagering would turn tracks into ghost towns.

Consider the day when the Washington Football Team is a seven-point favorite. It's leading 23-17 and could kick a field goal in the final seconds, but instead follows good sportsmanship and runs out the clock. Your favorite team just won and you're mad they didn't kick a field goal to cover your bet.

It will happen . . . all the time.

Nobody beats the sports books consistently. Linesmakers are just too good. Everyone knows the stock market is a long-term investment. Timing the market is impossible for most casual investors. You have lives to worry over more than stock prices. So, you wouldn't do it.

The same goes for sports wagering. The "sharps" know what they’re doing and it won't be long before you're broke and hating your favorite team. What good comes from that? That some of your losses go to school funding?

Maryland sports wagering should be approved, but don't expect any cheering from betting parlors. It's a sucker's game.

Don't be a sucker.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks

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