ANNAPOLIS — For players at some Maryland casinos, there’s never a last call for alcohol, as long as the games keep playing.
The Washington Post reports that unlike other bars in the state, three of Maryland’s four casinos can serve alcohol around the clock. It’s the result of a series of laws from the General Assembly and the gambling expanding referendum that voters approved last year.
That means last call is no more at Maryland Live Casino in Anne Arundel County, Hollywood Casino in Perryville and Rocky Gap Casino in western Maryland.
Some restaurant and bar owners complain, though, the casinos have an unfair advantage by serving alcohol around the clock. That’s also worrying bars and restaurants in Baltimore where the state’s fifth casino will open near the Inner Harbor in 2014. The new casino plans to operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
“I have great concerns that it won’t be a level playing field,” said Marc McFaul, who runs several Federal Hill drinking establishments close to the Horseshoe-branded casino site, including Ropewalk Tavern, Delia Foley’s and Stalking Horse.
Horseshoe executives said the new casino will draw new visitors to Baltimore, and that will benefit other bars, restaurants and businesses.
The one casino in the state that does not serve alcohol all night is the Casino at Ocean Downs in Worcester County. Bar and restaurant owners in nearby Ocean City protested the idea of allowing all-night service just 10 minutes from the summer resort where alcohol sales end at 2 a.m. A compromise in the legislature mandated that the casino would stop serving alcohol at 4 a.m.
The move to 24-hour alcohol sales drew little debate in the legislature. As laws were passed to expand gambling, lawmakers approved bills to allow alcohol sales during all operating hours. The state does not allow free alcohol service. But some say there should have been more discussion.
“The first time someone dies from a drunk driver coming out of Maryland Live at 3 in the morning with chips in his pocket, then maybe it will be an issue,” said Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), an opponent of casino gambling.