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Casino table games could be ready in early March

ANNAPOLIS — Gamblers could begin playing poker or blackjack in one Maryland casino as soon as March.

Hollywood Casino Perryville in Cecil County — Maryland first’s slots parlor — plans to start operating table games on March 7, a casino spokeswoman said. About 20 tables with dealers for poker, blackjack, craps and roulette will occupy the casino floor.

Gamblers visiting the state’s largest casino will have to wait just a little bit longer. Maryland Live Casino at Arundel Mills mall plans to start operating table games on April 11, casino executives said Tuesday.

A General Assembly committee still must give its blessing to table game regulations approved by the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission in December and January. The legislative review panel’s approval, expected by the end of the week, is thought to be a formality.

More than 400 slot machines are being removed from Maryland Live’s floor — leaving it with more than 4,300 — to make room for 122 table games. About 50 more poker tables will be added this summer. Hollywood has also removed about 400 slot machines, leaving the casino with about 1,100 machines.

Casinos keep 33 percent of slots revenue under state law but will keep 80 percent of table game revenue under legislation approved by the General Assembly in an August special session.

Table games were legalized at all Maryland slots parlors when voters approved Question 7 on Election Day. Approving Question 7 also authorized the construction of a casino in southern Prince George’s County.

Casino companies interested in building that facility are expected to notify state gambling regulators this week.