The question arises partly because of unmistakable evidence that the two top politicians who shoved the measure into law are fully aware that gambling hurts the middle-class and low-income people whom their Democratic Party purports to protect.
Both Gov. Martin Oâ€™Malley and Senate President Thomas V. â€œMikeâ€ Miller Jr. have bluntly acknowledged that gambling is a lousy way for governments to raise revenue. It disproportionately drains money from less-affluent classes who bet hoping for a statistically unlikely windfall.
Casino gambling is â€œa fad, itâ€™s a fancy, itâ€™s wrong, itâ€™s not the way to fund government,â€ Miller said early Wednesday. He spoke shortly after theÂ General Assembly approvedÂ the gambling bill, of which Miller was the most conspicuous champion.
Oâ€™Malley gave the plan decisive support even after famously calling gambling aÂ â€œpiss-poor way to advance the common good.â€
Oâ€™Malley and Miller have consistently said they backed the new casino bill anyway because itâ€™s one of the only ways in the current economy to create jobs and find fresh money for education and other worthy purposes.
But some dissenters, notably Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), say the Democratic Party has betrayed its base by succumbing to casino industry influence.
â€œA small group of special-interest folks on the inside, who are largely predatory on the middle class, they get special treatment from Annapolis,â€ Franchot, a likely candidate for governor in 2014, said in a telephone interview. â€œYou should be appalled at the hijacking of your state government.â€
Franchot didnâ€™t single out campaign donations to Oâ€™Malley and Miller but instead said that the industryâ€™s influence was generally corrosive.