Facing a massive budget deficit, the U.S. state of Maryland may consider expanding their casino industry to include more blackjack. The state’s budget deficit is predicted to reach $9.5 million within five years, so the state is in dire need of increased revenue and decreased spending. One possible way to increase revenue is to expand the casino operations.
In September, Maryland opened its first casino. The new Hollywood Casino has over 1,500 slot machines, three-card poker, video roulette and blackjack games. Though figures are not available for their first month’s revenues, a new casino that includes blackjack tables has been found to be an economic stimulus in Pennsylvania and Florida recently.
Governor Martin O’Malley (D) doesn’t oppose all gambling, but he is reluctant to expand very quickly, even stating once that he doesn’t want Maryland to turn into a casino state. However, he was willing to add one casino already. Adding a few more is certainly conceivable. Senate President Mike Miller, another Democrat, may push O’Malley toward that goal. Miller is a proponent of casino expansion and wants to reform the restrictive gambling laws in the state to remove a lot of red tape.
Meanwhile, horse racing in the state has continued to struggle. Some believe that casino expansion will hurt the horse racing industry even more. Now Laurel Park, one of the top racetracks in the state, has threatened to close down. It seems that the only chance Laurel Park has to stay in business and become profitable is to be converted into a casino. Many are now calling for the reluctant O’Malley to join Miller and work on legislation to make that happen.