Maryland has had a short foray into the world of casino gambling. The law has been on the books in Maryland for only 11 years, and it takes a while for any new enterprise to get started. While the casinos have shown moderate success they are in danger of losing any ground, they have gained to a new foe: online casino gambling. It may be that in Maryland, it is the online casinos that will have the upper hand. They can reach more people in more locations where there are no casinos.
Maryland’s History of Gambling, and Issues with Geography
Maryland is currently home to six casinos that are brick and mortar. At first, the state only allowed the casinos to offer electronic games, such as video poker and slot machines. However, in 2012, table games such as blackjack, poker, and roulette were added. Many of the 20 states with commercial casinos have had casinos since the early 1990s, and in the case of New Jersey, since the mid-1970s. In other words, Maryland is a late bloomer.
When Maryland is compared to Las Vegas, it would appear that because of its population, Maryland should have an edge. There are three times as many people living in Maryland as there are in Nevada. However, there are some geographic features of these two states that make them differ in their gambling market offerings.
There have been casinos in Las Vegas since shortly after WWII. In addition, the majority of the people in the state live in the Las Vegas or Reno areas. Maryland on the other hand, is nearly split in two by the Chesapeake, which leads to two very different types of community. Both sides of Maryland have significant groups of people, but the largest share of the population is in the Washington-Baltimore area.
How Casinos Have Tried to Solve the Problem
Maryland has tried to distribute the casinos to both sides of the Chesapeake, but it has not been an even distribution. The casinos range size-wise. There is a small casino in Rocky Gap, with 7500 feet of gaming space in all, 17 table games, and 660 slots, along with a nice golf course. At the other end of the spectrum is the new MGM National Harbor Casino, with hundreds of thousands of feet of gaming space, VIP poker rooms. The National Harbor is an entertainment complex, meant to draw the locals out of DC to spend their cash.
Some economic experts have stated that the way to go in Maryland is to allow online gambling in the state. Other states, notably New Jersey and Pennsylvania have seen large increases in their gambling revenue when online gambling is introduced. The United Kingdom, which has had online gambling for some time, has seen it take a majority of the casino money yearly. About 33% of all gambling revenue comes from online casinos.
This focus on online gambling represents a shift worldwide as many locations move some of their gambling licenses into online gambling. Experts predict that online gambling will surpass brick and mortar gambling by over 40% by the year 2030. While Maryland may want to move some of their legislation in the direction of online gaming, the brick and mortar industry is still bringing in revenue into the state. In the first quarter alone, Maryland received over $150 million in state and local taxes from casino gambling. Unemployment in Maryland is under 4%, and gambling jobs have increased to 7,000 people. Maryland may want to think about investing in the future, while still holding onto the present benefits they have.
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