aryland already had one casino open in 2010, and now the second of five planned casinos has opened its doors. Ocean Downs became the first casino in the state at a racetrack when thousands of patrons poured in on Tuesday. Over 200 jobs have been created from the opening of the casino.
"This is going to be a great thing for Maryland in terms of not only job creation, but also tax revenue," said patron Mark Bessler, who attended the grand opening with his girlfriend. "I have been waiting a long time for a casino here, and I can't wait to play slots later today."
The expansion has been slow in Maryland since the casinos were approved back in 2007. Lawmakers had a hard time agreeing on a casino expansion plan, so they put the issue to the voters. Every county in the state approved the casino measure. It is similar to what has happened in several other states in the Northeast.
Massachusetts is expected to be the next state to legalize casino resorts this year. Legislators were close to the legalization late last year, but Governor Duval Patrick vetoed legislation that would have also allowed slots at state racetracks. Gambling expansion will be one of the top issues on the agenda when the new session starts.
Maryland laws are still strict when it comes to the casinos. They cannot have big resorts attached like in other states, and they cannot give out free food and drinks to customers. The restrictions may keep gamblers away, especially at a time when there are more options than ever in the Eastern part of the US.