She ambled into the enormous slots hall like a shopper chasing a Black Friday door-buster.
“Yeaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!” she shouted, her arms raised high. “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s GO!”
After waiting outside for either seven, nine or 11 hours (depending on who was asking), Borges-Forte, 61, hurried inside and
. . .
waited in another line. She needed one of the casino’s rewards cards to earn free stuff, she said. “I’m not a big-time gambler,” she said. “But I like to play.”
Apparently, she’d come to the right place. Maryland Live! is the state’s largest casino, not to mention the only one with an exclamation point in its name. Everywhere that Borges-Forte looked inside, there were automated games.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “I love it in here.”
Outside, the line stretched north, past the casino’s main entrance — still under construction — and the Children’s Place store and Modell’s, and then snaked halfway around the mall, to the Bass Pro Shop. Thousands of impatient gamblers and eager looky-loos had come from Laurel and Laytonsville, from Capitol Heights and Clifton, and from Baltimore and the District, too.
By midnight, every machine seemed to be in use — save for the few that malfunctioned — and security held the line outside. The casino — whose capacity is about 12,000 — had become too crowded.
Hours before the opening, as workers re-squeegeed the glass doors and double-checked thousands of light bulbs, Pamela Parson stood behind the barricade, itching to break in the slot machines.
“I’ll play all of them,” the Baltimore woman declared. Maybe not all: There were 3,200 slots and other electronic games of chance set up for opening night — penny slots, dollar slots, $100 slots, with a dizzying array of themes and designs, from “Vampire’s Embrace,” “Village People” and “Big Vegas” to “Bank Buster,” “Michelangelo” and “Dirty Dancing.”
Parson got in line more than five hours before the public was allowed in. “I want to experience the newness of it,” she said as the line grew behind her. “And I want to see if I can win some of those million dollars they got in there.”
Maryland Live! is a $500 million bet by the Cordish Cos. that the Baltimore-Washington region is ready for an Atlantic City-style casino, complete with a celebrity chef (Bobby Flay was there Wednesday to hand out milkshakes at Bobby’s Burger Palace), concert hall (the 500-seat Rams Head Center Stage opening later this year) and an “interactive” watering hole (R Bar, on top of which a showgirl danced in front of two enormous television screens showing sports).
There’s also the gambling: By fall, when construction on the 330,000-square-foot building is completed, it will have 4,750 machines, more than almost any other casino in the country.
The third of five approved slots casinos to open in the state — and the first near Baltimore and Washington — Maryland Live! Casino arrived amid an ongoing debate over a sixth proposed gambling hall, most likely at National Harbor in Prince George’s County.