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“Nationals October 2019

The economic impact of casinos on Maryland

| December 17, 2019, 02:16 PM

Maryland is home to the city of Baltimore and many exciting places to visit. The many tourist attractions include the National Aquarium, the Great Falls, Antietam National Battlefield, Catoctin Mountain Park, including 6 casinos—one right here in Anne Arundel County at the Live! Casino & Hotel right near BWI.

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But gambling is not a new thing to Maryland.  Did you know:

A rich history

Gambling has an incredibly rich history in Maryland, specifically when it comes to horse racing. The second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, is held on the third Sunday in May every year at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The Preakness was introduced two years before the prestigious Kentucky Derby in 1873. It was named by the Maryland governor at the time, Oden Bowie.

The first ever Preakness, which was held on May 27 1873, drew seven starters and was won by John Chamberlain’s Survivor, a three-year-old thoroughbred, which earned him $2,050 in prize money. It’s become tradition for the crowd to sing “Maryland, My Maryland”, which is the official state anthem of Maryland, when the horses for the Preakness are called to the post.

The event continues to be incredibly well attended; in 2018 the Maryland Jockey Club reported the race’s attendance at 134,487 people — making it the second highest attendance for American thoroughbred racing events in North America that year.

Changes in legislation

While horse racing, especially at the Preakness, has been a strong part of the state’s tradition, in the past, many laws around gambling have been incredibly strict. Horse racing aside, Maryland was incredibly restrictive to land-based gambling. However, both the citizens and liberal lawmakers have fought incredibly hard to make it more friendly towards the gaming industry as a whole. Before 2008, land-based gambling including slots or table games like poker, were not authorized. It was in a the 2008 legislative session that allowed a select number of operators in the state to host slot machines in their venues.

In 2012, things changed again when Governor Martin O’Malley made a promise to voters to look into expanding the options of gambling to include table games. Legislation was officially adopted on February 7, 2012 by Senator Douglas JJ Peters, who introduced a bill in the Maryland State Senate legalizing another casino, as well as a select number of table games and slot machines in several casinos.

There were some caveats to this that would have an effect on the economic development of Maryland. Part of the legislation, 2.5% of the Prince George’s County casino revenue would go towards an economic development fund; another 2.5% of this revenue would fund the construction of a new hospital in the area. In Anne Arundel it was to go to education as well as local community improvements surrounding the Live! Casino & Hotel. While it took until November, the legislation did pass, allowing for table games like poker as well as a sixth casino to be built in the state.

Things have continued to progress since. In 2018 and 2019 legislators sponsored sports betting bills in Maryland — and while officials have ruled it will require a voter-approved constitutional amendment, the political environment in conducive for it it go through. The commercial casinos approved in the state now generate around $1.7 billion in revenue, equating to millions of dollars a year in tax revenue. Many of the states around Maryland have approved sports betting; Virginia, for example, is looking to approve the game play in 2020. This would entice Maryland residents to go elsewhere if looking to bet on sport, potentially losing out in revenue that could go towards developing the state and improving the economy.

The state’s top casinos

There are now six casinos officially operating in Maryland. The Rocky Gap Casino Resort, which opened on May 22, 2013 shortly after the 2012 legislation passed, is renowned for its poker facilities. It is located in Flintstone and has 631 Video Lottery Terminals as well as 18 tables. There are regular poker tournaments held throughout the year, and games requiring a minimal buy-in fee, ensuring that even those who are just getting a grasp of the rules of poker are catered to. Other casinos include the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, the Hollywood Casino in Perryville, Live! Casino & Hotel in Anne Arundel County, Ocean Downs in Berlin, and the MGM National Harbour in Oxen Hill. The MGM National Harbour was the most expensive with a final price tag of  $1.2 billion.

The first of these resorts to open in the state was the Hollywood Casino Perryville in September 17, 2010. Located in Perryville, it has a gaming floor of 75,000 sq. ft with over 1,500 slot machines and table game options including blackjack, craps, roulette and poker.

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Category: Businesses, LIFE IN THE AREA, Local News, NEWS

About the Author - Stephanie Maris

Stefanie is a local blogger and social media content marketer from Maryland and most recently a wife and a mother. She has an unhealthy obsession with puns, sarcasm and caffeinated beverages.

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