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New Md. casino is 3 football fields long

Wednesday - 5/30/2012, 11:42am  ET

Associated Press

HANOVER, Md. - Maryland's largest casino is more than three football fields long.

Maryland Live! opened its doors for a media preview Tuesday. The casino is vast and colorful on the inside with a boxy exterior next to a popular shopping mall. It is scheduled to open on June 6 in a first phase that will include about 3,200 slot machines, including a high limit room.

"No one's ever opened with this many slots at one time," said Joseph Weinberg, president of The Cordish Co.

The casino occupies about 12 acres next to The Arundel Mills Mall. It has more than 330,000 total square feet of gambling, restaurants, bars and a music venue. The gambling floor alone makes up about 160,000-square feet. The casino can hold about 15,000 people, Weinberg said.

Five restaurants also are scheduled to open next month. A Bobby's Burger Palace _ named for chef Bobby Flay _ a Phillips Seafood, a buffet and noodle bar are set to open next week. The Cheesecake Factory is due to open on June 20.

A second phase between July and October will include a music venue called Rams Head Center Stage and a high-end steakhouse called The Prime Rib. Another 1,550 slot machines will be added in the second phase, too.

A parking lot has space for 5,000 vehicles.

The casino cost about $500 million to build, according to the Cordish Co. When it's fully open, it will employ about 1,500 people.

The casino includes a variety of electronic forms of blackjack, craps, roulette and baccarat. Table games with live dealers are not currently allowed in the state.

Gov. Martin O'Malley has indicated he may call a special session in July, if a workgroup on gambling can reach a consensus to expand gambling to potentially include table games as well as a sixth site in Prince George's County.

Weinberg said Cordish favors allowing table games, but opposes a sixth casino site.

"We think it would be great if the state wants to pass table games for the five authorized facilities, but not at the cost of adding a sixth license in the state," Weinberg said, adding that a large additional casino in Prince George's would oversaturate the market.

Maryland Live! will be the state's third casino to open. One is open in Perryville, off Interstate 95, and another is open near Ocean City.

Two more sites also are currently authorized to have casinos, including Baltimore and a site in western Maryland at Rocky Gap State Park. A state commission has awarded a license for the western Maryland site. Caesars Entertainment is working on receiving a license to operate a casino in Baltimore.

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