Maryland Guide To Legal Gambling

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MarylandFor many years, Nevada was the only place in the US to play a slot machine. The one-armed bandit has been synonymous with the state for decades.

However, for 21 years, from 1947 to 1968, Americans could find legal slot play in Maryland too.

In terms of significance, this fact makes Maryland one of the only states to ban gambling, then bring it back.

This history likely set the stage for Maryland’s moderate but passionate reintroduction back into the world of slot machines and table games.

Recent Maryland legal gambling news

Online gambling

Like many states, Maryland does not have a strict law for or against playing games of chance online. However, the state is rather restrictive when it comes to funding those games. Many banks and other financial institutions are closely monitored for any kind of interactions with gambling websites or operators.

The bright spot is that there are three nearby states (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) that either have or are about to have online gambling. It is certain that the Maryland Legislature will be monitoring those states’ successes closely. It is also possible that Maryland could decide to get in on the online game in the near future. Below is a table of likely operators based upon the companies that already have a foothold in the state.

Likely online gambling operators

Operator Properties Owned/Managed in MD
Caesars Entertainment Horseshoe Casino Baltimore
Gaming and Leisure Properties Hollywood Casino Perryville
Golden Entertainment Rocky Gap Casino Resort
MGM Resorts International MGM National Harbor
Saratoga Casino Holdings Ocean Downs
The Cordish Companies Maryland Live! Casino

Social casino options

Marylanders have all of the typical options for social gaming. Double Down, Big Fish, Slotomania, Zynga, and MyVegas are all available through Facebook or mobile devices. Interestingly, the Hollywood Casino in Perryville does not feature its own social casino option. This is unusual for casinos branded by Hollywood.

Marylanders may want to pay slightly more attention to MyVegas than other states because of its proximity to Borgata in New Jersey. Although it’s not walking distance, Borgata is a short trip from Maryland and does have options for redemption through the MyVegas site. Maryland residents might do well to investigate the slot options on MyVegas.

State casino operator history

In 1947, four counties in southern Maryland ignored a veto from Maryland’s governor at the time and installed 9,300 gaming machines in their counties. These counties raked in millions of dollars each year. It was estimated to be over $24 million in 1963 alone, and the scene was so hot that it became the main tourist attraction for the area.

However, all good things must come to an end, and in 1968 Maryland outlawed the slot machines. But the fire for gambling in Maryland continued to smolder. In 2008, residents approved a constitutional amendment to allow slot machines in five specific state locations.

Things went well, and in 2012 voters elected to expand the allowed games to include table games at the five casinos. They also voted to extend the operating hours at the casinos and to authorize a sixth casino. The six casinos are in six different Maryland locales – Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Cecil County, Allegany County, Worcester County, and Prince George’s County. The sixth casino, MGM National Harbor, just opened last December.

Casino revenue

So far, the appeal of these facilities is strong and on the rise. Total revenue for February 2017 alone was over $128 million. The addition of the sixth property is certainly contributing to that figure. MGM National Harbor made $48.8 million in revenue in its first month of operation and its effect on the overall take has been a net positive for the state.

All of this has occurred since 2010, when Hollywood Casino Perryville opened its doors. By the standards of the rest of the state’s casinos, it is a rather modest property. There are 850 slots, 20 table games, and an off-track betting facility (there is no poker room). Yet, four years later, the profile of the state’s gaming industry expanded fivefold – four more casinos opened their doors by August 2014.

The largest of these casinos (and still the largest – MGM National Harbor could only take second place) is Maryland Live! Casino. This massive casino offers its patrons almost 4,000 slot machines, over 200 table games, and a gigantic poker room with 52 tables. There are eight restaurants for patrons to dine, a posh hotel with 310 rooms and 52 suites to reserve, and a 1500-seat entertainment venue. This casino is enough to warrant a stop on the World Poker Tour each year, despite the casino only having been open since June 2012.

Location, location, location

Maryland Live! and the five other Maryland properties are finding such success because of the tremendous location they enjoy. Maryland is a fairly populous, but small state, which means it is close to many surrounding areas in addition to its own cities and localities. For instance, Maryland Live! is a 15-minute drive from downtown Baltimore and also only a 50-minute drive from Washington D.C.

It is also less than a two-hour drive from both Philadelphia and Dover, Delaware. These two cities have their own options to be sure, but Maryland casinos are close enough to draw from those areas for a change of pace or special events (like the aforementioned WPT). All in all, the future looks bright for Maryland casinos, because even with the saturation of the northeastern casino market, Maryland enjoys a roughly central location from many parts of this area of the country.

Land-based casinos

Property Location # of Slots # of Table Games # of Poker Tables
Maryland Live! Casino Hanover 3,941 209 52
MGM National Harbor Oxon Hill 3,212 165 39
Horseshoe Casino Baltimore Baltimore 2,186 179 25
Hollywood Casino Perryville Perryville 850 20 n/a
Ocean Downs Berlin 800 n/a n/a
Rocky Gap Casino Resort Flintstone 662 17 n/a

 State legal environment

  Permitted/Offered? Notes & Restrictions
Land-Based Gambling Yes
Online Gambling No
Lottery Yes State and multistate drawings
Charitable or House-Based Gambling Yes
Minimum Gambling Age 21


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