Opening of Maryland casino brings early crowd

September 27, 2010|By Liz Kay, The Baltimore Sun

Perryville, MD — When Mike Lee heard that the Hollywood Casino Perryville was opening this morning, a few days ahead of schedule, he scratched his plans for golf and headed for the slot machines.

When the casino opened its doors to the public at 8 a.m. -- the beginning of a new chapter in Maryland gambling -- Lee was the first of about 35 people in line. "I could have played golf in the rain. This seemed a little more entertaining," said the 59-year-old retiree from Havre de Grace.

Within an hour, nearly 200 people had braved a steady rain to get a peek at the new casino, the first of the five planned in Maryland to open. The casino got a test run Saturday with a group of about 1,400 invited guests, and that event went so well that the public opening was moved up to today.

Lee and other gamblers were curious to see how the Perryville slorts parlor would compare to competitors in Delaware, West Virginia and other states.

Brad Turner of Perryville said the new casino was comparable to others he has visited, and he expected to return about once a week. The 58-year-old former plumber was already off to a good start -- he came with $100 and doubled his money in less than an hour. But his bad back started acting up, so he headed home with his winnings and a half-eaten bacon, egg and cheese sandwich.

Michele Roberts of Bel Air liked the freshness of the new building, and said the Delaware Park casino smelled of cigarette smoke. Still, she expected to return to the Delaware casino because it offers table games such as blackjack.

Janice Mears, who lives near Delaware Park, said the Maryland casino was smaller -- and the drinks were more expensive. Sipping a $5 glass of Michelob Ultra, she said, "At Charles Town the drinks are free, at Dover they're $1." She likes to play roulette at Delaware Park, but might return to Perryville occasionally.

Georgia Nunley of Northeast is likely to be a regular customer. She usually plays at Delaware Park or at the local VFW hall, where she is in the ladies' auxialiary. This morning, she left her house at 5:30 a.m., stopped at an ATM, and drove to Perryville, where she waited in her car for the opening.

"I've been waiting a long time for [slots]," she said.

liz.kay@baltsun.com

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