Baltimore casino gets upgraded following passage of Md. expanded gambling measure


An artist’s rendering of a casino planned before Baltimore — before the brand change. (Courtesy Caesars Entertainment)
November 8, 2012

A casino planned for downtown Baltimore will carry a higher-end brand name as a result of this week’s passage of a Maryland ballot measure allowing tables games, officials with Caesars Entertainment said Thursday.

Caesars had previously advertised a Harrah’s casino with slots only. But now they plan to build a Horseshoe-brand facility, with additional offerings such as blackjack and roulette, as well as a poker room and more restaurants.

“This changes the project significantly,” John Payne, a Caesars president, told reporters in Baltimore, where the casino is planned to open just south of M&T Bank Stadium in mid-2014.

The change is one of many that will emerge from Question 7, which voters passed 52 percent to 48 percent on Tuesday. The ballot measures authorized a new casino in Prince George’s County in addition to table games at the state’s five previously designated slots locations.

The operator of Maryland Live!, the state’s largest casino, confirmed plans Thursday to move to 24-hour operations, likely by the end of the year, taking advantage of another provision in the ballot measure.

The casino, located at Arundel Mills mall in Anne Arundel County, also plans to add more than 100 table games and a poker room by late spring, said Robert J. Norton, the general manager of Maryland Live!.

Norton said the casino, which opened in June, was built with the understanding that table games would likely be legalized at some point.

“We have very few modifications that need to be made,” Norton said, adding that table games and 24-hour operations should increase employment at the casino by 1,200 jobs.

Stephen Martino, director of the Maryland Lottery, which regulates the state’s gambling program, said regulations needed to implement table games are already being developed and should be in place in January.

Sometime next year, state officials are expected to solicit bids for the Prince George’s casino from a swath of the country that includes both National Harbor and Rosecroft Raceway. National Harbor, the 300-acre mini-city on the banks of the Potomac River, is considered the leading site and has been championed by Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), among others.

Penn National Gaming, which spent more than $42 million fighting Question 7, is the owner of Rosecroft, the harness track in Fort Washington.

Karen Bailey, a Penn National spokeswoman, declined to say whether the company would bid for the Prince George’s license.

Penn also owns a casino in Charles Town, W.Va., that analysts say would take a financial hit if a large-scale gambling venue opens at National Harbor.

In a statement Wednesday, Penn thanked “all those who stood up against this unseemly back-room deal with National Harbor.”

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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