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Long-awaited Horseshoe Casino opens to the public

Horseshoe Casino Baltimore celebrated its grand opening Tuesday, to great fanfare.

About 1,000 showed up to the casino’s VIP event, where Horseshoe executives, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Gov. Martin O’Malley kicked off the opening. Numerous other Maryland lawmakers and officials were spotted at the casino’s VIP party as well, including Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Meanwhile, members of the general public began lining up outside the building as early as 7 p.m.

“The opening of this casino is a bold statement about the vitality of our downtown,” said Rawlings-Blake. “I believe it’ll be a real springboard for growth in this area.”

More than half of the casino’s workers, 1,251 employees, are city residents, said Rawlings-Blake. She expects the Horseshoe to fuel millions of dollars in new development in the city.

“The baby’s been born and we can pass around the cigars,” she said.

According to the casino’s leadership, Horseshoe Baltimore is the first urban casino on the East Coast.

“It’s built to meld into all of the things Baltimore has to offer,” said Gary Loveman, CEO of Caesars Entertainment, which owns the Horseshoe brand.

Horseshoe, located on Russell Street at the southern gateway to Charm City, is the state’s fifth casino. It has been under construction since 2013.

The $442 million development has been in the works since 2012, when the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission chose Caesar’s Entertainment’s bid to develop the Baltimore gaming facility. Voters approved the plans to build a casino in Baltimore and four other locations in Maryland in 2008.

Horseshoe is the second largest casino in the state, after Maryland Live, featuring 2,500 slot machines, more than 100 table games and a 25-table poker room. It’s also home to a premium steakhouse, 24-hour cocktail bar, two celebrity chef-run casual restaurants and a marketplace of local food establishment spinoffs.