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Removing slots from Maryland casinos wasn’t easy

When Maryland Live Casino at Arundel Mills mall and Hollywood Casino Perryville were ready to shed slot machines from overcrowded gambling floors, they ran up against some resistance from Maryland’s gambling regulators.

Charles LaBoy, assistant director for gaming at the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said it took some “arm twisting” to get the casinos to give up machines that were high-performing. Both preferred to give up their worst machines.

“That’s what they would do if we let them,” he told members of the Joint Committee on Gaming Oversight on Thursday.

Because some slot machines were going to fill Rocky Gap Casino Resort, regulators wanted to ensure that the state’s newest casino didn’t wind up with more than 500 lemons. Sen. George C. Edwards, a Western Maryland Republican, said Thursday that it didn’t seem as if the facility near Cumberland had gotten a bad deal.

LaBoy later added that Maryland’s four casinos — led by the three that have offer table games such as blackjack and roulette — were also keeping Maryland gamblers within state lines. Previously, they had been crossing in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia to play.

“We have definitely stemmed the flow of Maryland residents,” LaBoy said. “With Maryland Live, we’ve turned the tables.”