The Maryland Live! casino in Hanover will open June 6, but if you're interested in making a bet right now, listen up.
Joe Weinberg, president of gaming and resorts for The Cordish Cos., this week announced the launching of Myliveonlinecasino.com, a "play-for-fun" gambling site offering all of the slots varieties at the casino as well as poker, backgammon and other games.
"It's the first time in the country that a casino has a play-for-fun site that's tied into its bricks-and-mortar facility," Weinberg said.
The site will give gamblers a preview of the more than 3,000 slot machines and other electronic games available on opening day. Players can win credits that can be redeemed through the casino's rewards program.
But the website doesn't involve real money. Yet.
Weinberg said Myliveonlinecasino.com provides his company with a staging area if Maryland approves full online gambling. The Maryland Lottery is already preparing online versions of its games to launch next year, following a U.S. Supreme Court decision giving states a green light to allow Internet gaming.
"If Maryland were to allow for pay-for-play online gaming, then yes, we'd be able to convert this site over to pay-for-play gambling," Weinberg said.
Pending approval from the Maryland State Lottery Agency, gamblers and others will get their first look inside the bricks-and-mortar casino at 10 p.m. on the first Wednesday in June. The opening will include live entertainment in the building and on the plaza connecting it to Arundel Mills mall.
At that time Maryland Live! will have more than half its slot machines, and restaurants including the Cheesecake Factory, Bobby's Burger Palace, a Phillips Seafood and the R Bar, which the company describes as a circular, interactive bar inspired by roulette.
The second phase - including another 1,700 slot machines, Rams Head Center Stage, a Prime Rib restaurant, retail shops, a high-stakes slots area and other features - will open in September or October.
The 5,000-space free parking garage and improvements to area roads, including a first-in-Maryland diverging diamond intersection on Arundel Mills Boulevard at Baltimore-Washington Parkway and upgrades to 16 nearby intersections, also will be ready in time for the opening, Weinberg said.
Construction of the 300,000-square-foot facility began in January 2011. The final phase of the $500 million facility will have more slot machines than any casino in Las Vegas or Atlantic City.
The company is betting the casino will draw players from northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and the Baltimore area. Officials project the casino will annually bring in $400 million for the state and $30 million for the county.
Weinberg lauded the work of the Local Development Council, which has given County Executive John R. Leopold recommendations on how to spend the $15 million in revenue projected for the county in the first 12 months.
Under the council's plan, the money would go to provide 15 additional police officers for the area, more firefighters, and road and school improvements.
Meanwhile, Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert, are pressing for approval of a casino in Prince George's near Washington, D.C.
Cordish and others say such a facility would strip away much of the market for Maryland Live!
They cite studies showing that adding a casino in Prince George's County would dilute the gambling market and siphon off Maryland Live! customers coming from northern Virginia and Washington. These studies say Maryland Live! would lose between 10 percent and 23 percent of its revenue.
Maryland voters approved five casinos in a 2008 referendum, and at that time Prince George's officials asked for their county not to be considered.
But since his election, Baker has pushed for a $1 billion casino at National Harbor, a mixed-use complex on the Potomac River.
Miller's support for the plan was widely blamed for the deadlock that forced state lawmakers to end this year's General Assembly session without approving a tax plan to pay for the budget.
Gov. Martin O'Malley said he is now considering two special sessions, one for the tax package and another for gambling legislation.
Two casinos are open now. On Thursday a Maryland commission approved a slot machine license for a casino at the Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort in western Maryland.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.