WASHINGTON – Maryland’s incursion into the world of legalized gambling is likely to bring the state millions of dollars in tax revenues, but industry experts predict the decision to allow table games will continue a decades-long tradition of states cannibalizing one another’s markets for personal gain.
On Thursday, Maryland’s largest casino opened its doors and became a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation. Maryland casinos can be open 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Maryland voters on Nov. 6 approved Question 7, which legalized table games and around-the-clock gambling, and bumped the number of planned casinos in the state from five to six. The change means every mid-Atlantic state, except Virginia and the District of Columbia, allows some form of gambling, from virtual slot machines in New York to online gambling in Delaware.
“I never dreamed in a zillion years that it would be as prevalent as it is now,” said Jim Kilby, a gambling consultant and author who has spent 43 years in the business.
Maryland, in its attempt to reclaim the money gamblers have spent in neighboring states’ casinos, has shoehorned itself into an industry already straining from a user base fragmented across an ever-expanding playing field of gambling destinations.
A February 2012 market analysis by Business Research & Economic Advisers of Maryland’s emerging gambling industry showed the state could potentially gain about $200 million in tax revenues a year if voters approved Question 7.
After a historically expensive fall campaign fueled by about $90 million in advertising spending, Election Day resulted in a 52-to-48-percent win for casino proponents. The passage cleared the way for a casino to be built at National Harbor in Prince George’s County, which is likely to be operated by MGM Resorts International — the world’s second-largest gambling company.
“Most of the dire predictions about getting a gambling culture and the negative effects of gambling