In 2008, after years of political squabbling over whether Maryland should host casino gambling, the question came up before voters in a referendum. The state government and the gambling industry lobbied hard for the votes, pledging that taxes levied on the gambling establishments would go to public education. TV commercials promised that casinos would bring hundreds of millions of dollars “directly into our schools,” and warned that if Maryland missed this opportunity, those stacks of cash would instead benefit students in the bordering casino-friendly states of West Virginia and Delaware.
The referendum passed. In 2012, after the “most expensive political campaign in Maryland's history,” a ballot question expanding gambling to table games also passed, narrowly. Maryland now has six casinos, including the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Baltimore, which opened in 2014. In the last seven years, these facilities have welcomed tens of millions of visitors and generated around $4.5 billion in profits. That has translated into $1.7 billion in funds for education, including $200 million from Horseshoe.