Allegany County officials recently doled out dollars from Rocky Gap Casino Resort to several county services and nonprofits. The county receives an annual percentage of revenue from slot machines at the casino. With every dollar wagered, Rocky Gap gamblers boost services in Allegany County.
The $2.7 million distributed by the county last week is a boost from previous years. Normally, the county receives 3.75% of slot revenue. This year, the percentage increased to 5.5%.
Next year’s allotment looks even better
The 3.75% percentage had been in place since the allotment’s inception in 2014. The Maryland General Assembly increased it by 1.75%. They sought to make it more in line with percentages received by other counties.
More good news was provided by County Administrator Jason Bennett. He said the amount of gambling proceeds projected for fiscal 2024 would be in the range of $3.9 million.
“It will be an increase of, we think, approximately $1.2 million. It is still an estimate right now, obviously. We will know more next year this time. But it’s a nice increase.”
The $2.7 million allocated during last week’s meeting is for fiscal 2023.
Revenue benefits several agencies, nonprofits
This official allotment came after the Allegany Board of Governors unanimously voted to dole out the proceeds in such terms. Traditionally, the first $10,000 received is given to fire companies in close proximity to the Rocky Gap Casino. The remainder is distributed via a percentage table.
- County Fire and Rescue companies: 39.5%
- Municipalities and nonprofit projects: 20%
- Allegany College of Maryland Foundation Scholarship Fund: 17%
- Frostburg State University scholarships: 9.25%
- Allegany County PAYGO account: 4%
- Allegany County Board of Education: 4%
- County Land Development Council: 4%
- Ballistic Vests for Law Enforcement: 2.2%
Many of the recipients received the same amount as last year. That includes scholarship funding for Allegany College of Maryland and Frostburg State University. ACM was gifted $360,000, and FSU received $200,000. Thanks to the casino revenue-funded Allegany County Opportunity Scholarship, hundreds of students are able to pursue college degrees.
Besides those, other awards included $792,000 to nonprofits and area municipalities for capital improvement programs. The Allegany County Local Development Council approves the allotments. The 15-member panel makes spending recommendations to the county.
Fire and rescue
Allegany County Fire and Rescue companies receive the largest portion, $866,000. Twenty-six companies serve the county. Emergency personnel also receive training from the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute and the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council.
The Allegany County Board of Education can expect to get $80,000 for capital projects. Police will receive $50,000 for ballistic vests and taser guns. Bennett addressed the funding at the meeting.
“We are going to allow excess money for law enforcement vests. If you remember, we did that a couple of years ago. We’ve gotten to the point where we’re going to have bought them all for everyone in the county. Whether it be city police, Frostburg (police) or our own sheriff’s patrol.”
Allegany County Emergency Management Services gets $250,000. Bennett said a new allocation entry of $100,000 was also added this year. The money will be invested in a transit service to transport workers and visitors to the Rocky Gap from Cumberland.
Allegany County’s PayGo fund gets $80,000. It is an endowment that helps reduce debt.
Most states use casino revenue on education
For the past two decades, casinos have grown into a major industry in America. The US permitted casino gambling in only two jurisdictions prior to 1980, Nevada and Atlantic City, N.J. Today, 48 states allow some form of gambling.
One of the main incentives for states to legalize gambling is the potential for economic growth. Increased employment, more tax revenue to state and local governments, and also higher retail sales are the greatest benefits.
State governments use casino tax revenues for a variety of programs. Public education seems to be the preferred destination in many states.
In Allegany County, specifically, funds must be used within the limits of the county and in certain areas.
- Public safety
- Economic and community development, including housing
- Rocky Gap debt service