Virtual casino machine operators in the Maryland region of Baltimore City and Baltimore County annually cheat the government out of about $15 million in tax revenue annually, according to a report by the Abell Foundation.
The Abell Foundation study found that operators of the virtual casino and gaming machines, including video poker, under- report their earnings by up to $153 million each year.
The virtual casino machines are located in corner bars and convenience stores across the state. Many establishments pay out winnings, which is illegal in the state of Maryland. They keep records of the winnings, often in code, in places that are inaccessible to police and inspectors.
The report, largely written by former Maryland Sun reporter Joan Jacobson, recommends that the state go in one of two directions: it should either legalize virtual casino gambling completely in order to be able to fully regulate it, or ban the virtual casino and gaming machines.
City officials say that they are too poorly financed to center too much attention on this problem. “The Police Department’s primary focus is crime,” said Edward J. Gallagher, the city’s top finance official. “And so many of our resources are pointed toward that.”
The Abell Foundation studies solutions to problems of inner- city poverty.
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