Greenbelt American Legion Considers Increasing Gambling Machines

On the heels of the gambling expansion bill's passage, Greenbelt's American Legion is thinking about its options.

may add slot-like machines following the Maryland General Assembly's approval last week of the gambling expansion bill.

"We are definitely thinking about that," American Legion Manager Steve Messer said.

The bill included language allowing veterans' organizations in every county but Montgomery to have new slot-like machines in veterans halls.

The Greenbelt American has existing gambling machines for members only that issue cardboard cards and paper, but it is interested in slots called "one-arm bandits" that issue coins, according to Messer.

Some veterans feel they were added into the legislation for political reasons, forcing those who favored slots for veterans' organizations to swallow the entire gambling bill.

"They used veterans to get what they wanted," said Charlie Wollenweber with American Legion Post 17 in Edgewood, according to CBS Baltimore. "That's the main consensus of, at least, the guys in my post."

Voters may get the last say, though, as the main aspects of the legislation, —permitting the state's sixth casino to be constructed in Prince George's County and allowing table games in Maryland casinos—are the subject of a referendum on the November ballot, according a report in The Baltimore Sun. But gambling machines at veterans halls are not up for voter approval, the report says.

Messer said the American Legion has been petitioning lawmakers on the issue for years, but that it wanted a deal similar to what veterans have on the Eastern Shore. They want to give half the monies gained from the machines to charity and keep the other half, according to Messer. But what veterans are not interested in is giving half the profits to the state, he said.

Greenbelt American Legion Post 136 wants to review the legislation before making a final decision, according to Messer. It will have to go through a committee process, and that takes time, he said.

Still, if the conditions are right, the legion would probably be interested, according to Messer, who explained that more American Legions are going out of business and getting smaller.

Editor's Note: This story has been clarified to show that the Greenbelt American Legion has existing gambling machines.

Polly August 24, 2012 at 11:16 AM
That's sounds great Steve! Charity instead of the State!


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