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A Big Night for Casino Developer

After a battle to get a license for slots, The Cordish Cos. opened the Maryland Live! casino ahead of schedule. Are table games next?

David Cordish knew it was impossible to make money off of a casino unless you could first get the thing built.

After winning a to allow for a license to have slots near Arundel Mills, the Baltimore-based real estate developer started work quickly, and the first phase of Maryland Live! opened Wednesday.

"It's an exciting night, and I am very proud of what we've done," said Cordish, the chairman and founder of The Cordish Cos. "The state of Maryland asked for a world-class facility, and we delivered."

Time will tell whether Cordish's $500 million investment will pay off. But in the near term, officials have touted the creation of 4,000 jobs to the area and an expected $400 million in tax revenue.

Cordish noted the speed of construction, with crews working round-the-clock in eight-hour shifts to complete the project in 12 months after breaking ground.

"You only build a facility of this quality with the cooperation of a lot of people," said Joe Weinberg, managing partner and president of gaming for The Cordish Cos.

But even while celebrating the opening of Maryland Live!, officials have voiced concerns about the potential for new expansion of gambling beyond the five currently licensed facilities. The Maryland legislature has discussed the possibility of allowing for a sixth license in Prince George's County, tying in an expansion with the .

Currently, state law only allows for slot and video gaming machines, with table games using virtual dealers. Other states, including West Virginia and Pennsylvania have legalized table games with live dealers.

Maryland lawmakers could hold a special session on the issue in July.

Weinberg said he supported the addition of live table games, but not if it was tied to the creation of an additional casino in the state.

“We think table games would be a great enhancement for the facilities in Maryland, but it should not be linked with whether or not you add another facility," he said. "What one has to do with the other, I don’t know.”

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