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Marylanders bullish on gambling as first slots casino opens

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Jeffrey Hooke, a Bethesda-based gambling analyst, said table games typically increase revenue at casinos by about 25 percent and expand the customer base. Adding table games would require another statewide referendum, which Hooke predicted is unlikely to occur before 2014.

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The closest Maryland casinos are likely to get to table games for the next few years are electronic versions that the gambling industry classifies as slot machines.

The gambling floor in Perryville includes "electronic table games" - machines that simulate three-card poker, blackjack and roulette - without the cards, chips or wheels.

The Maryland Senate approved a bill this year to allow gambling on card games at Rosecroft Raceway, the now-shuttered harness-racing track in Prince George's County. The measure died in the House. O'Malley and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) opposed it, saying Maryland should focus on getting its slot casinos up and running.

The state still has a long way to go.

Anne Arundel voters will decide in November whether to allow a zoning law to stand that is needed for Cordish Cos. to build a 4,750-machine casino in a free-standing building at Arundel Mills mall.

Only 39 percent of registered voters statewide say they would support a slots casino at a shopping mall in their county, according to the poll. Fifty-six percent would oppose it.

The survey respondents were not asked about the Cordish proposal in Anne Arundel, where monied interests are spending heavily on television ads to influence the vote.

If the zoning measure is scuttled, it could be several years before slots arrive there.

A state commission last year rejected a bid by a developer who wants to build a 3,750-machine slots casino in downtown Baltimore. The developer, whose financing plans were slow to materialize, has appealed the decision.

Meanwhile, the state recently reopened bidding for another casino location in Western Maryland that initially attracted no qualified bidders.

A total of 1,448 randomly selected adults in Maryland were interviewed, including 1,196 registered voters and 730 likely voters. Results among registered voters have a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points; the error margin is 4 points for likely voters.

Polling director Jon Cohen contributed to this report.


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