The secret conference room is not in Annapolis, as you might think, and probably not in Baltimore. It is somewhere in Maryland, the way Camp David is in Maryland. You’ve heard about it, but you can never go there, or even find it on a map.
This secret room has one door and no windows. Transparency is not desired. In the center of the room is a large table of solid teak. Money, a great pile of slot-machine money, covers the table. Hundred-dollar bills, 100 to a bundle, banded by a ribbon of brown paper.
The hundred-dollar bills start at the edge of the table and pile higher and deeper, rising like a hill at the center. How high is this pile of slot-machine money? I do not know because I have never seen it. But if you and I sat on opposite sides of the table, we would not be able to see each other. So much money would come between us.
Enough slot-machine money is on the table to make a few gambling corporations profitable and a few individuals filthy rich. Enough money is on the table to subsidize gentleman horse farmers and prop up the decrepit racing industry, with enough left over to finance dozens of political campaigns. There is enough money on the table to buy the state of Maryland.
This grand pile of money mesmerizes politicians, focuses the attention of the gambling industry, and transfixes Maryland like a deer in the headlights.
So much slot-machine money is piled on the table that you and I might think it is enough for everyone. We would be wrong. There is never enough money for everyone. The wealthy absorb money the way a warehouse fire consumes oxygen.
This is what it’s all about. This table piled high with money is what the battle over slot machines is about. The ruin of thousands of Maryland families is merely collateral damage. The corruption of Maryland politics is incidental. — Bernie Hayden