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Quick and Dirty

Rhymes With ‘P,’ Which Stands for Pool

By Edward Ericson Jr. | Posted 3/29/2006

Benjamin Blye, 76 years old, hobbled forth to address the Maryland House of Delegates’ Ways and Means Committee on March 14. He said he was especially offended when the operators of a Carroll County senior center he frequents forbade betting on pool last spring.

“I was interviewed on MSNBC,” he told the committee. “Jay Leno got ’hold of it.”

Blye was one of 13 seniors bused from the county to speak on behalf of a bill, endorsed by their county delegation, that would legalize petty gambling in the county’s five senior centers. The old folks had been doing it for years, playing penny-ante poker, bingo, and billiards.

“We found out,” one woman told the delegates, pausing for comedic effect, “that it was illegal.”

Delegates duly acted shocked, provoking laughter from the several dozen people, many from the horse industry, who were there to testify on other gambling-related bills. Then the committee took an impromptu vote, unanimously agreeing to give the measure, HB 938, a favorable report. That’s when Del. Nancy King (D-Montgomery County) asked the seniors to explain what the limit on betting is. Chairwoman Sheila Hixson (D-Montgomery County) reminded her that the committee had already voted, and so the matter was closed. (The limit, according to the bill, is $5 “per session.”)

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