The launch of the $500 million facility in Anne Arundel County will mark a key milestone in Maryland’s gambling program, which has suffered multiple delays and generated significantly less revenue for the state than first projected.
Maryland Live!, developed by the Baltimore-based Cordish Cos., is set to open at Arundel Mills mall with 3,200 slot machines and electronic table games, more than double the offerings of either of the first two casinos to open in the state.
By this fall, Cordish says the number of machines will grow to 4,750, making it one of the largest casinos of its kind in the country. The facility will also include a half-dozen new restaurants and a live music venue.
Besides touting what they called a “world-class gaming experience,” Cordish officials also said Thursday that they hope the opening will influence the debate in Annapolis over whether to authorize a sixth casino in Maryland, which Cordish opposes.
Legislation that called for a public vote on allowing a casino to be built in Prince George’s County died on the final night of the General Assembly’s 90-day session but could be revived in a special session this summer.
“I think it’s very important for members of the General Assembly who are considering expansion to see what a 4,750-slot-machine facility looks like, the size and magnitude of that,” said Joe Weinberg, managing partner of Cordish.
Weinberg has repeatedly argued that the region is not likely to support another “mega-casino” in Prince George’s, given the size of his company’s facility, another planned in Baltimore and the Charles Town, W.Va., casino.
Cordish officials also announced Thursday the launch of a “play-for-fun” Web site that allows users to play virtual slots games and sign up early for their casino’s “rewards” card. Weinberg said the online site is the first of its kind in the country to be branded and integrated with a “bricks-and-mortar” facility.
When fully operational, legislative analysts expect Maryland Live! to generate more than $400 million a year in revenue, with about half of that going to state education programs. Cordish officials have floated larger figures.
Two of the five slots venues authorized by Maryland voters in 2008 are open: a 1,500-machine facility in Cecil County; and an 800-machine facility in Worcester County.
A state commission scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon will consider awarding a license for an approved location in Allegany County.