Monday, July 09, 2012

Live! But Not Real Lively

Last Friday night we headed over to Arundel Mills to check out the new Maryland Live! casino. We were curious to see what the states newest and largest slots parlor looked like inside.

It was dark, though that is fairly typical for a gaming establishment. Casino operators like to separate their guests from the world outside so windows are as rare as clocks. It hardly matters. The views from this casino in a parking garage wouldn't be that great anyway.

If you’ve ever been to Las Vegas or Atlantic City, the sounds you hear upon entering the casino are very familiar, a cacophony of bells and chimes from the sea of slot machines and other electronic table games.

What really struck me though were the patrons. There were a large percentage of older, overweight people plopped down in front of slot machines. The atmosphere may have sounded lively but most of the people we saw were anything but. The absence of dealers and pit bosses further contributes to the indolent atmosphere. This is a place where the machines are much livelier than the humans.

In an article by John Wagner in The Washington Post, Milton Peterson, the developer of National Harbor in Prince Georges County, referred to Maryland Live! as a “slots barn.”

I think that’s a little unfair. What Maryland Live! lacks in exterior design, it makes up for inside. It’s not the nicest casino I’ve ever been in but it’s hardly a barn.

Peterson’s derisive comment about “slots barns” should be taken in context. If the guv is successful in expanding gambling in the state, National Harbor “would partner with MGM to build an $800 million facility with a hotel, nightclub, spa and other upscale amenities.”

That’s about $300 million more than the Cordish Company claims they spent on Maryland Live!

We considered having dinner at one of the two restaurants in the casino, Bobby Flays and the Cheesecake Factory. Bobby Flays is open to the casino and all the attendant slot noise so we ruled that out. The Cheesecake Factory was packed with a long wait just like every other Cheesecake Factory I’ve ever visited.

We ended up going to the DuClaw Brewing Company with their great selection of beers instead. It may not have been that much more lively but at least we didn’t have to wait an hour or talk over a chorus of slot machines in the background.

...and the EuForia ale was so good, I had another.
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