BERLIN, Md. (AP) — Maryland’s second casino opened on Tuesday with 750 slot machines in a $45 million parlor next to the Ocean Downs horse racing track on the Eastern Shore.

The 34,000-square-foot casino will employ 236 people at the track near the resort town of Ocean City. Gov. Martin O’Malley noted at the opening that building the casino supported about 300 construction jobs, and he cheered it as a job creator and money-collector for the state.

“The most powerful place in our state is the family’s home and there’s no way to protect that home unless mom or dad has a job, so the 236 jobs here are important,” O’Malley said.

The casino’s opening comes more than two years after Maryland voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing slot machine gambling in a state where the issue had stymied lawmakers for years. In a 2007 special session, state lawmakers punted the divisive issue to the voters. The amendment passed in every county.

But the difficulty of legalizing slots in Maryland prompted lawmakers to impose restrictions to make the vote more palatable, and any further expansion of gambling like table games will require another vote by residents. The soonest that can happen is 2012.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a longtime supporter of expanded gambling to raise state revenue, used the opening to criticize restrictions to the casino that he believes should be lifted.

The casino can’t offer free food or drinks, nor can it provide entertainment beyond a piano player. The owner also can’t build a hotel or a golf course there. The restrictions came because nearby hotel and other business owners opposed the casino.

“This is a great facility,” Miller, D-Calvert, told reporters before the ribbon cutting. “It needs to expand. The restrictions on it need to be lifted.”

The opening means that Maryland now has about 2,250 slot machines of a potential 15,000 slot machines operational. Maryland’s first casino opened in Perryville off of Interstate 95 in September. That casino has 1,500 machines.

Three other potential casino sites in the state have stalled for a variety of reasons, including a lack of interest at a site in western Maryland, local opposition to what will be the state’s largest casino in Anne Arundel County and trouble finding a viable operator for a casino in Baltimore.

The Anne Arundel County site that is being developed by the Cordish Cos. near a popular shopping mall survived a referendum in November initiated by opponents. It is on track to be finished by late 2012 with 4,750 slot machines. A temporary casino with 2,000 machines could be finished by late this year.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (7)
  1. Colliemom says:

    Great – now when I visit Ocean City, I won’t have to drive all the way to Dover Downs to donate my money! I’m glad that now the profits will benefit Maryland residents, instead of them going out of state to play slots. Makes it more fun to do to OC, can have a grown up night out. Long overdue.

  2. David Smith says:

    750 slots is TINY. You can barely get on a machine at Perryville and they have 1500 machines. I cannot imagine how hard it will be to find a machine at Ocean Downs in the summer rush season… WAY TOO SMALL MARYLAND!

  3. groover says:

    great another way for people to go broke and live on the streets and live off of welfare.

  4. tylerjake says:

    Hey Groover, it’s called personal responsibility. If someone gambles away their ENTIRE paycheck, then that’s on them. However, people should have the right and opportunity if they’re going to gamble to do it in their OWN state. By the way, ever heard of something called lottery? Psssst….it’s been legal here in MD since 1975, don’t tell anyone.

  5. nicki says:

    people will only go broke if they chose to…..

  6. Snake says:

    I still will drive to Dover or Charles Town because they now have table games! Slots are BOOOOORING!

  7. Michael says:

    I think it’s comical how this talking head, Governor O’Malley shot down the slots and ridiculed the idea when it was on his opponent, former Governor Ehrlich’s, platform. For years Ehrlich tried unsuccessfully to get the slots bill passed and O’Malley and his sycophantic followers shot it down. They stood on soap boxes and preached to the amorality of slots and how it would be a blight for the state of MD. Here we are a few years later and what does O’Malley do, he climbs back on his soap box and professes our need for slots in the state of MD as a positive source of state funds and job openings. What a charlatan, can anyone else see this?

    O’Malley, please do the state of MD a favor and just gracefully go away. It is well known that your occupational aspirations are for a federal position, if the opportunity arises, please Sir; take it. If you will, take your bandwagon supporters with you. Since you’ve been in office you’ve raised our State Tax, are proposing a higher Alcohol tax, and are now “Open to discussion” towards cutting our educational funding. It is on the backs of an ignorant populous that you continue to hold a position in our state government. Typically speaking, most persons vote along party lines and are oblivious to the political platforms on which nominees stand for, come from or try to represent. In a polling place, they see the word Democrat and click “Yes”, this is absurd.

    To the voters in MD, you have to understand that it is you whom have the power to make change. Your voice is not heard on a federal level, for popular vote is inconsequential. You go out and “Rock the vote”, attend rallies and slap bumper stickers on your car, but your voice is not counted on federal Election Day. Only at the local, county and state government levels is popular vote counted towards electing an official, yet turn out at all of these elections is shockingly low. Do you not understand that your local and state governments are the one who directly impact your lives the most? Look at your grocery bill, car payment, taxes on your house, even your W-2. Wake up, if you want to make a change, than make change. Quit blindly voting because of party lines, and make a difference. Please.

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