The Horseshoe, Baltimore’s First Casino, Opened Last Night

27 Aug 2014 | 10:00 Author: King, George

Baltimore’s first casino, the Horseshoe, enjoyed its Grand Opening on Tuesday night with dazzling fireworks, vertical dancers, showgirls and cocktails aplenty.

Caesars Entertainment Corporation, the  company behind Maryland’s newest casino, began the process to open the casino in 2012, following approval by the Maryland Lottery Commission to a Caesars-led consortium who won the bid to develop and operate the gaming facility in post-industrial, downtown Baltimore.

This is not the first time such a development has been proposed and it seem post-industrial cities such as Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Cleveland have become casino gambling’s newest frontier. Caesars Entertainment Corp is not alone in their endeavours as many a developer has set its sights on developing new and exciting casinos after many manufacturing industries closed factories, creating urban wastelands in once thriving cities.

The success of the Horseshoe Baltimore is not in its decision to open, but its decision to hire local employees so as to revive a floundering local community. Of the 2400 employees hired by the casino, 1250 of them, nearly 51 percent of the workforce, live within the city limits.

Speaking at the Grand Opening, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said: “In order for this to really work, Baltimore City residents have to benefit by getting these jobs”.

One of the residents, 29 year old mother of two, Jasmine Jennings, is just one of the residents of Baltimore that had more to celebrate on opening night than just the casino, she celebrated a new job. Jennings said she had been unemployed for about a year and half and stood in line for five and a half hours at the hiring event in May, resulting in a job as a ‘Security Ambassador’. A job that entails checking any identification, performing the occasional cash drop and monitoring patrons behaviour, either on the casino floor or in the casinos multimillion dollar surveillance room.

As good as the new casino will be for reviving Baltimore’s economy, where more than quarter of the city’s 622 000 residents live below the poverty line, there have been some that are vehemently opposed to the new casino. Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat said: “There are people that aren’t excited about gambling, and I am one of them. I have never gambled more than $5. But how can you put a price on jobs? We need jobs”.

Lawmakers in Annapolis debated for many years on whether or not to legalize gambling within Baltimore and eventually voters endorsed slots in a referendum in 2008. The lure of increased jobs as well as property taxes made the casino more acceptable to opponents of gambling.

The Horseshoe Casino’s deal with Baltimore will see them pay at least $11 million in a lease-agreement as well as profit sharing and property taxes, for the first year alone. With the states four other casinos, the Horseshoe will generate revenue for education and other similar projects and, according to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, have raised $1.82 billion since 2010.

The latest addition to the Maryland casinos, also happens to be the second largest casino in the state, that is until the new $925 million MGM casino opens at National Harbor in the middle of 2016. The Horseshoe features 2500 slot machines, 122 table games such as Roulette and Blackjack and a 25 table World Series of Poker room, something that no other casino in the state has.

Among the obvious draws of big winnings, the casino also features celebrity run, world class restaurants, cocktail lounges, a nightclub and it holds the city’s only twenty-four-seven liquor license. Guy Fieri, the well-known celebrity chef, speaking at the Grand Opening said: “huge bar, open kitchen, all this energy happening, to be a part of it, mind blowing”.

“I can see myself coming here, maybe after a football game or before, and just hanging out” said Steven Dannenmann, a CPA from Severn who was the runner up in the $4,25 million main event of the 2005 World Series of Poker.  “I tell you, I’ve been to a lot of casinos, in Vegas and Atlantic City and throughout Europe, and they have done a really great job here – all the glitter, but also giving it a flavor of Baltimore.

Even the local heroes, the Baltimore Ravens are getting in on the action and it would seem that the casino has already made what it can only hope to be its first local friend. The Ravens have booked out the entire section of the wrap-around deck of Johnny Sanchez, one of the casinos restaurants, for Tuesday night where they’ll be enjoying the evening’s festivities with a very familiar view, that of the M&T Bank Stadium. 

George King
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A Writer, a Sailor and a purveyor of Facetiousness: Ladies and Gents, we give you... George "the" King

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