With an arrival heralded by an event called the March of the Dealers, followed by a ceremonial roll of the dice, Maryland Live! got ready to raise the stakes with table games.
At 12:01 a.m. Thursday, the casino introduced 24-hour play at 122 tables. Until now, patrons just came to play the slot machines.
The new tables have already paid off -- big-time -- for one gambler. She was playing backjack in a high stakes room for about $100 per hand.
"I came at exactly 12:01 to be one of the first people at the tables," said a woman named Danielle. "...I've been here about seven hours or so, and I got lucky. I won about $20,000, and it's not bad for a day's work."
Table games are the latest step in the state's dramatic expansion of commercial gambling.
The goal is to keep in Maryland the estimated $3-$4 million per year spent by Free State residents at casinos in Delaware and West Virginia.
So far, officials estimate that Maryland Live! has been generating more than $1 million in slots revenue per day since it opened in June.
"There is a large element of our populartoin that wants a live deal, that wants a live croupier at a craps table," said David Cordish, chairman of Tthe Cordish Companies, which owns the casino, shortly before the tables opened for play. "And starting at midnight tonight, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, they will have it."
A new two-story poker room is being built and will open about 50 additional tables this summer.