Give Frederick a sports activities betting website | Editorials

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Sports betting is on the way to Maryland, following voter approval of the new gaming option by voters last fall. So it only makes sense that a Frederick gambling location should be allowed to join the fun.

The Frederick County legislative delegation recently voted to ask the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to issue a sports and event wagering license to Long Shot’s Restaurant and Bar, which is located in the Clarion Inn Event Center next to the Francis Scott Key Mall in Frederick.

The restaurant already is licensed as an Off-Track Betting site, so it makes sense to us to expand its offerings to include sports betting. A bill is expected to be introduced in the General Assembly later this legislative session to implement sports wagering statewide.

Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll) sought the delegation’s backing for his bill asking the state to include the local restaurant in the statewide plan. It was a somewhat controversial issue at the delegation meeting.

According to a News-Post article by reporter Steve Bohnel, Hough argued that if the delegation did not push for the only off-track betting business in Frederick, Long Shot’s might not be included in the wider bill. Hough’s local bill eventually was supported in a 5-3 vote.

Our reporter said the discussion eventually came down to a disagreement between three lawmakers who wanted to wait for the legislative leadership to write the implementation bill, and those who felt it was important to speak out on behalf of the local business at the beginning of the process.

Del. Carol Krimm (D-Frederick) and Sen. Ron Young (D-Frederick) said the delegation should wait until after the bill hearing on House Speaker Adrienne Jones’ bill. Young also indicated another Frederick business might apply for a sports wagering license. Del. Karen Lewis Young (D-Frederick), chair of the delegation, also opposed Hough’s measure.

But Dels. Jesse Pippy (R-Frederick and Carroll) and Dan Cox (R-Frederick and Carroll) said now was the time to indicate support for Long Shot’s. Del. Barrie Ciliberti (R-Frederick and Carroll) and Del. Ken Kerr (D-Frederick) agreed.

Hough said if Long Shot’s is not given a license for sports betting, local people would be more likely to patronize nearby gaming operations in West Virginia and Pennsylvania and the county would lose tax revenue.

We supported the ballot question last fall in large measure because the states surrounding Maryland as well as the District of Columbia have already approved sports betting, and it just made sense for Maryland to do likewise, in order to keep revenue in our state.

If Maryland were to hold out against sports gambling, we argued then, residents would continue to cross the state line and spend their money in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware or the District.

The same argument, on a smaller scale, holds in this case. If a state is permitting sports gambling, it should make it convenient for people who enjoy gambling to play close to home.

Both the District and Virginia are allowing residents to bet online, without even going into an OTB site or a casino. All they need is a cell phone or a computer. Advertisements for the services are all over television and radio. But if folks want to go out to dinner or have a few drinks at a bar while they watch sports and bet on the outcome, we should advocate for the local location.

If people want to win — or lose — money, they should lose money here at home, we say.