Maryland Live! Casino opens new poker room

HANOVER, Md. (AP) - The 52-table poker room at Maryland's largest casino opened Wednesday.

Dealers began shuffling cards at Maryland Live! Casino in Hanover at noon. A grand opening ceremony was held at 11 a.m.

Some people got in line early, waiting over five hours to play their first hand.

"It's worth it," says Michelle Baldwin, who got in line at 6 a.m.

Robert Norton, president and general manager, says it’s more than worth it for the casino. The projected take could be as much as $1 million per month, but Norton says he’s reluctant to get specific.

“For us it means adding poker, which is a big piece of a puzzle we haven’t been able to office for the first 18 months of the operation,” he says. “It’s additional revenue, additional customers, additional jobs, so it means a lot to us.”

It also means taking on the competition. In the past, Maryland casinos have complained of lost revenue to other facilities in nearby jurisdictions like Charlestown, West Virginia.

Maryland Live! opened in June 2012 with 3,200 slot machines. In November, voters authorized table games at the state's casinos, and the casino began offering blackjack, roulette and craps in April.

The poker room covers nearly 15,000 square feet and is one of the largest in the region, as well as the closest to both Baltimore and Washington. It will offer games with a variety of betting limits, as well as tournament play.