Martino -- Gaming Industry: A New Economic Force in the Corridor

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Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles in Corridor Inc.'s "Economic Impact" issue, which was published this month. Click here to sign up to receive a complimentary copy of the entire print issue.

By Stephen Martino

On November 4, 2008, the people of Maryland approved a referendum authorizing five casinos licenses in the state and 15,000 slots machines for those facilities. This followed a special legislative session in 2007 which the Maryland General Assembly passed and Governor O’Malley signed legislation giving Marylanders the final say on this economic development opportunity. Three of these operations lie along the I-95 Corridor and include Hollywood Casino Perryville in Cecil County, which opened on September 27, 2010; Maryland Live! in Anne Arundel County, currently under construction; and the Baltimore City casino, where proposals are being sought.

Hollywood Casino Perryville, the first of Maryland’s casinos, has already generated more than $80 million in revenue. While the state’s share of this money directly supports Maryland’s treasured K-12 public education system, the casino’s capacity for creating jobs is also having a notable impact.

During the construction of Hollywood Casino Perryville, 900 Marylanders and their families benefited from steady employment and good wages. Currently, 290 Hollywood Casino Perryville full-time employees reap the rewards of a position in a stable and growing industry, with room for advancement. Career opportunities run the gamut, from on-site management, finance, accounting, information technology and security to service personnel, including casino wait staff, food preparation and maintenance jobs. State law requires that all casino positions offer comprehensive health care and retirement investment options.

This job creation expands opportunities not only for the men and women hired but also for the communities in which they live. The Lottery is hearing anecdotal reports of increased traffic and patronage at businesses located near the casino. Visiting the casino puts people in proximity of local businesses, be they restaurants, hotels or retail stores.

Local charities also benefit from the casino operations. Hollywood Casino Perryville not only makes monetary donations on a monthly basis to local charities, but casino personnel volunteer time in support of local organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity and the Boys and Girls Club of Harford County. Additionally, the surrounding communities receive local impact grants. Constituting 5.5 percent of slots revenue, these tax dollars help fund development, infrastructure and maintenance projects.

With Hollywood Casino Perryville helping to strengthen the economy on the northern end of Maryland’s I-95 Corridor, attention is shifting to Maryland Live! in Anne Arundel County. Maryland Live!’s first phase is anticipated to open in June 2012 with about 2,750 machines. Maryland Live! is owned and operated by Power Plant Entertainment, whose principals are from The Cordish Company of Baltimore. According to its owners, the facillity will create 2,500 construction jobs. When operating, Maryland Live! will have 1,500 permanent employees, again providing opportunities in numerous occupations within the casino. The casino will also anchor a variety of other exciting dining and entertainment venues. Rams Head Live, Cheesecake Factory, Obrycki’s and a Bobby Flay restaurant are slated to open within the complex.

With the hundreds of jobs that stand to be created to support these establishments, the Corridor will benefit from the influx of new career opportunities with steady income and good benefits. Those who are employed prosper; the economy of surrounding communities prospers; the region as a whole garners the advantages of new business ventures.

Positioned to become a destination attraction with far-reaching appeal even beyond Maryland’s borders, Maryland Live! has the potential to become an economic windfall to Anne Arundel County and the Hanover area of the I-95 Corridor.

The third of Maryland’s planned casinos along I-95 will be built in Baltimore City. This facility will house 3,750 machines and, as with the other two operations, will provide employment opportunities in both its construction and its operation.

The Maryland Lottery will continue in its role as regulator of the state’s slots program. Consistent, even-handed regulation makes for long-term development and investment. By providing a reliable forum for this significant financial commitment, private sector jobs have been and will be created, sparking economic opportunity and stability for Maryland families.

The Maryland Lottery has been pleased to play a small role in promoting and encouraging the responsible development of the gaming industry in the state. The next couple of years should see explosive growth in the number and quality of jobs created and the amount of revenue generated by this industry for the benefit of Maryland and its people.

Stephen Martino is Director of the Maryland Lottery.
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