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eChecks are a great way to get money into gambling accounts. They only require you to have a bank account or even a web wallet, and they are as safe as can be. As a result, eChecks have become one of the most popular methods to gamble online in Canada. And when it comes to Canadian sportsbooks that accept them, Sports Interaction stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Sports Interaction is actually licensed here in Canada and is devoted to the Canadian market. It offers markets on sports that Canadians love, but sports that aren’t always covered by other sites. What’s more, because it is licensed here, you know that you are gambling legally, safely and within the confines of Canadian law. With so much ambiguity around surrounding these laws at the moment, that’s a good thing to know.
What is Sports Interaction?
Sports Interaction was launched way back in 1997. It classes itself as an all-in-one gambling destination, which is to say that it offers all forms of gambling under one virtual roof. Sports Interaction is a leading Canadian sportsbook and casino and is regulated both within this country and Jersey, which allows it to offer its services to players across Europe and further afield.
Sports Interaction was once open to US players as well. However, they stopped allowing them to join in 2013, with only those who had accounts prior to that date still allowed to play on the casino and use the sportsbook.
Sports Interaction have often been criticized for not offering bonuses as big as some of their rivals in Asia and Europe. And to some extent this is true. However, they have upped their game a lot in the last few years and the bonuses on Sports Interaction now far exceed what you can get on sites like SkyBet and BetFair, two of the biggest betting sites in Europe.
Sports Interaction announced a $100 Betting Bonus in 2017 that all new players were welcome to. There were terms and conditions attached to this bonus, of course, but there was nothing you wouldn’t expect.
This bonus is also available whether you use a credit card, a debit card or an eCheck to deposit. One of the many issues gamblers have with sportsbooks and casinos is that they try to funnel players toward a certain payment method by limiting the deposit bonus to those methods. That’s not the case with Sports Interaction. You choose whatever method you like and they give you the welcome bonus—simple as that.
eChecks to Withdraw
eChecks are not best suited to withdraw with. In fact, many gambling sites won’t let you use them. They are a great deposit method, but when it comes time to collect your winnings you’re much better off using an alternative method. Luckily, on sites like Sports Interaction you have many of these to choose from.
You can use any of the following methods to get your winnings:
- Virtual Visa
- Credit Cards
- Debit Cards
- uKash (UK only)
Live dealer casinos have become all the rage in the digital gambling world, ever since they first appeared in the early 2000’s. Since then, technology has progresses greatly, and live casinos have grown right along with it.
Playtech, one of the earliest developers of live dealer software, having built it’s first studio in Manila, Philippines in 2003, announced a monumental expansion project earlier this month. The company signed an agreement with Greek gambling monopoly OPAP to build a new live dealer casino in Riga, Latvia.
Riga is one of the most popular hot-spots for live dealer studios, already home to many other brands like Evolution Gaming, Unibet, and others. Playtech has operated a smaller Riga studio since 2009, but is now building a new studio in the city’s Old Town that is destined to become the largest live dealer casino studio in the world, encompassing 8,500 square meters (91,493 square feet).
Live Casinos – Is Bigger Better?
In the grand scheme of things, Playtech’s live dealer platform is a great one, ranked among the top 3 live casino options on the planet. But when you narrow it all down, even with such an esteemed claim-to-fame as being the largest live dealer casino studio, it’s important to see just how well Playtech stacks up to its biggest competition, Evolution Gaming.
Evolution wasn’t even a blip on the radar until 2006, when it launched as a pure play game supplier. Since then, they’ve grown so rapidly that – despite being late to the game – they’ve become the benchmark for what a live dealer platform should represent.
Evolution Live Dealer Casinos
In the last decade, Evolution has opened new studios in Riga, Latvia (of course), Portomaso, Malta, and their latest addition, located within the walls of the famous Grand Casino in Bucharest, Romania. It’s software is indisputably the best in the business, offering superior customization, simultaneous table play, and TV-quality streaming that even works well on slower connection speeds.
Evolution provides its licencees with a wide range of live dealer games, including 20+ variants of blackjack, baccarat, roulette, three card poker, Caribbean stud and casino holdem. Some of their specialty titles include Baccarat Controlled Squeeze, Immersive Roulette and live tables played directly from the Hippodrome in London, Dragonara Casino in Malta, and (as previously mentioned) Grand Casino in Bucharest.
Playtech Live Dealer Studios
Playtech’s live dealer casino has a lot going for it, too. This platform actually has a slightly larger variety of tables, with a similar game selection that also includes live dealer hi-lo and sicbo. Like Evolution, it’s list of jurisdictional licences is impressive, and all games are compatible with desktop and mobile devices.
However, Playtech still has some work to do before it can truly rival Evolution. There are sporadic downtimes in the software; the result of bug issues in the audio and video department both for desktop and mobile versions. This is, perhaps, the only real problem with Playtech’s live casino platform, but it’s a rather big one for players seeking a reliable, streaming service.
Whether the newer, larger studio in Riga will be any better is yet to be seen, but it won’t make a difference for Canadian players. The new studio will only cater to the brand’s European market.
When it comes to live casino games by LuckyStreak, it’s all relative. The company is relatively new, the number of tables are relatively small, and the software is relatively ingenious. LeoVegas recognized that when the world’s most famous mobile casino brand chose to integrate the LuckyStreak Live Dealer Casino into their robust platform.
LuckyStreak first appeared in 2015, and seems to have taken a page out of one of the live casino industry’s biggest brand names, Evolution Gaming. The company was built on a proven premise of delivering a high quality, innovative and wholly dynamic experience, built with mobile users in mind.
LeoVegas prides itself on giving players the most extensive variety of digital casino amusements, especially in the selection of live casino games. With the addition of LuckyStreak, the UK-based mobile casino giant now employs more than 30 elite software brands.
LuckyStreak Live Dealer Casino
They say all you need to win at gambling is a lucky streak. Based out of its studio in Riga, Latvia, the live dealer casino offers a small collection of less than 10 tables. Games include only the most popular selections for now, with live roulette, live baccarat and about half a dozen live blackjack games.
The software and live streaming capabilities employed by LuckyStreak are state-of-the-art. All tables are streamed in crystal clear 16:9 HD quality video. There’s an overall blue theme that can’t be ignored, either, including blue felted tables and matching silk-blue curtains in the backdrop.
LuckyStreak Live Casino Games
The live dealer roulette games feature the preferred European, single-zero variety. The games are enhanced with statistics, game play history and advanced betting actions to enhance the player’s experience.
The live dealer baccarat games are played in standard fashion, with all cards placed face up. The games run rather quickly (but not too quickly), and include traditional bets on Player, Banker or Tie (8 to 1), as well as a few side bet options like Player Pair, Banker Pair, Either Pair, Perfect Pair, Small and Big.
Over at the live dealer blackjack tables, things get a little more interesting. Players can choose to play their own hand or, if the seats are all full (or if they simply prefer it) can Bet Behind any of the table’s seated players. The usual Perfect Pair and 21+3 side bets are allowed.
The rules are fairly standard here as well. 8 decks are used and the dealer stands on all 17s. Insurance pays 2 to 1, Blackjack pays 3 to 2. Players may double on 9, 10 or 11, may only split once, and can take multiple cards on split Aces. If splitting Aces, an Ace+10 is 21, not blackjack.
Personalization Is The Key
What sets LuckyStreak apart from so many of its competitors is the dynamic personalization integrated into the platform. Last year, the company COO, Amit Shalev, noted that the live casino industry has been rather stagnant since the first smartphones appeared on the market, and it’s their aim to change that.
Now days, “End users have become more demanding of the software they use, be it a word processor, a dating app or a live casino,” said Shalev.
To better meet that demand, LuckyStreak infused its live casino games with a personal touch. Some of the features can be customized by the player, while others happen instinctively, based on a user’s past predilection.
“On top of localisation features which include language and currency adjustments, we allow the users to design their experience based on their preferences,” explained Shalev. “When a new player logs in to our games, we make an effort to mimic their habits in order to best tailor their next live casino experience.”
Players who always choose the same live casino games will find those games at the top of the list when they log in. Should a player always request a certain dealer, the system recognizes this and creates “call to actions” based on that data. Essentially, the live casino games recognize their players and deliver the experience they know those players prefer.
Superstitions tend to exist in every form of gambling. Whether its blowing on the dice at the craps table, or bringing those bum-ugly troll dolls to the bingo hall, good luck charms are all-too common in the casino industry. For baccarat players, squeezing the cards is every winner’s secret weapon.
In Macau, Baccarat Squeeze is played at the majority of their tables. I don’t mean the majority of baccarat tables, but the majority of all tables throughout the casino. Baccarat is the most popular game among Chinese gamblers, and they sure are a superstitious lot! Without the squeeze option, they probably wouldn’t even bother playing.
What Is Baccarat Squeeze?
Squeezing the baccarat cards, as it’s called, is a process in which one player (or the dealer, at some casinos) will carefully turn up the edge of a card to reveal only the suit symbols on that edge (not the number). Otherwise, the rules are exactly the same as traditional baccarat.
Wait a minute, isn’t baccarat dealt with the card face up? In most countries, yes. But not in Macau. Even casinos in Australia, Canada and the United States have taken to playing the face-down squeeze variety. It’s become so popular, in fact, Evolution Gaming has several live dealer baccarat squeeze games, and just last October, released three new Live Dealer Baccarat Controlled Squeeze tables.
What’s the difference? In standard Baccarat Squeeze, the dealer squeezes the cards to reveal the edges. In Baccarat Controlled Squeeze, that job belongs to a player. To be more precise, it belongs to the player who stakes the highest amount of money on the hand.
Okay, but how does a player squeeze baccarat cards from a computer or mobile device thousands of miles away? That’s another great question. In this case, the highest-wagering player gets to click on the edge(s) of the card(s) they wish to reveal. The table’s are specially designed with glass inlays, and the cards are dealt atop that glass. The covering below the glass is automatically pulled back just enough to reveal the chosen edges.
In standard Live Dealer Baccarat Squeeze, its not up to the players to decide which cards are squeeze. Instead, which ever hand got the most bets placed on it – Banker or Player – will have it’s card squeezed by the dealer.
What good does it do to see the suit symbols on a card? Glad you asked. It won’t reveal the number on the card, of course, but it can give information as to what numbers could be on the card. If we see the top and side edge of a card, and it reveals two hearts on the top, plus 3 on the side, we can surmise that the card is either a 6, 7 or 8.
But the bets are already made – the cards already dealt – does this really change anything? This is where superstition comes into play. Many Chinese gamblers believe they can alter the suit symbols they haven’t seen yet. Maybe they really need that card to be a 6. In a live baccarat setting, you might see the player blowing on the card or – in the most passionate of cases – even stabbing through the middle of the card with a pen. This is to remove the suit symbols that may be in the middle of the card, supposedly turning a 7 or 8 into a 6.
So that’s it? Yep, that’s it. Chances are, you’ve had one of two reactions at this point. You either think Chinese gamblers are completely out of their minds, or you’re the superstitious type and are scrambling to find an online casino where live dealer baccarat controlled squeeze is offered. If it happens to be the latter, Royal Vegas is a good option.
The online gambling industry is overflowing with Christmas promotions this holiday season. One of the oldest and most respect software brands in the business, Playtech, will launch its promotional campaign on Friday, starting with Christmas themed Live Dealer Roulette tables.
The new holiday live roulette tables will become available at all Playtech casinos at precisely 6:00 pm (GMT +1) on December 16, 2016. The roulette room at the live dealer studio will be decked out with festive ornamentation, including Christmas themed roulette tables for all to enjoy.
Christmas Live Roulette at Playtech Casinos
Playtech announced the holiday themed tables earlier this week, promising players they would be greeted by Christmas characters as they join the tables. And of course, the dealers are getting into the holiday spirit as well, and will be adorned with festive outfits to celebrate the season.
These special live roulette tables will be available in the standard live dealer gaming section of all Playtech casinos, and are exclusive to the brand. The new Christmas promotion is the software company’s way of giving a little something back to all of its licensees and dedicated players.
“We’re delighted to be able to offer our licensees with a dedicated Christmas roulette room.” said Playtech’s Head of Live Casino Innovation, Kevin Kilminster, in a press release announcing the Christmas live roulette tables.
“This is our way of thanking our live casino clients for their custom and commitment this year as well as a great way to add some Christmas cheer to our live offering,” he continued.
“We’re certain Christmas Roulette will be a big success with our licensees and their players. Merry Christmas everyone!”
Playtech Live Dealer Casinos
As far as live dealer promos goes, it should be no surprise that Playtech would be the one to come up with such a festive concept. The world’s leading omni-channel gaming software supplier already boasts the largest variety of live dealer games by far.
With live casino studios in Riga, Latvia and Manila, Philippines, Playtech hosts somewhere upwards of 100 live dealer tables. The game variety includes multiple variants of blackjack, baccarat, roulette, hold’em poker, hi-lo and sic bo. Players can choose from several room types as well, including standard tables, Prestige tables, VIP rooms and their exclusive Emperor room.
Established in 1999, Playtech was first listed on the London Stock Exchange (AIM) in 2006. The internet gaming software developer services all genre of online gambling, including digital casinos, poker rooms, bingo games, instant win games, sports betting, fixed-odds betting, skill games and,of course, live dealer casinos. All offerings are optimized for desktop and mobile platforms.
On a side note, I should point out that Playtech made a little typo when publishing its YoutTube video to promote the new Christmas live roulette tables. In the description, it states the new holiday tables are “Coming to Playtech Live – 16th December 2017 at 6PM (GMT +1)”.
We’re fairly certain, however, that they meant December 2016. It’s okay Playtech, we all get a little frazzled this time of year 😉
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Your good at math. You have a tidy bankroll stowed away. You’ve decided it’s time to turn your stash into more extra cash by playing real money blackjack online. That’s not a bad idea, seeing as blackjack is the most profitable game in any casino – but let’s back it up a moment.
Ask yourself a few questions first. Have you ever played blackjack? Do you truly understand the rules of the game? Are you aware that there are dozens of rule variations you could come across? Have you developed an optimal strategy for the type of blackjack game you intend to play?
If you answered ‘No‘ to any of these questions, you’ll want to keep reading.
Usefulness of Free-To-Play Blackjack Apps
I know you want to play real money blackjack online, where you can actually win cash. But the best way to learn the rules and develop a proper strategy is to practice. Playing free blackjack games just for fun is the best way to accomplish that.
Not just any blackjack app will do, though. You need one that allows you to set the various rules, and provides optimal strategic data for all hands. There are some great blackjack training apps out there that offer these features, compatible with all iOS and Android mobile and tablet devices.
Some of my favorite blackjack apps include:
Know The Rules You’re Going To Play
Selecting only the best rules for the lowest house edge isn’t going to get you anywhere. There’s no casino out there that’s going to provide all the best rules on a single table. Instead, you’ll need to see what rule variations are available at the online casino you intend to play at (see next section for more info).
Because these free-to-play blackjack apps allow users to set the rules, you can enter the exact rules in the settings menu before you start practicing. This way, when you do start playing real money blackjack online, you know you’ll be working with the best possible strategy, giving you the lowest house edge and, therefore, the highest possible win rate.
Real Money Blackjack Online
Never assume that all internet blackjack sites are created equal. For every reputable operator out there, there’s a rogue operator hoping you’ll deposit with them instead. Take your time. Do your research. Find an operator with a long-standing reputation for honesty, integrity and quick, reliable payouts. Royal Vegas is a good example, as it meets all of these standards.
Also make sure players from your country are accepted, and that the deposit/withdrawal methods meet your needs. Then, peruse the available blackjack games and see what rules they offer. If the rules are appealing, make sure the pay table is too.
A natural blackjack should always pay 3:2. If the payout is anything less than that, find a better game. Decreasing the payout for a natural blackjack is the easiest and most covert way for casinos to hike up the house edge by as much as 2.27%.
Finally, remember that it’s impossible to turn the tides completely into your favor. If it were that easy, casinos would be out of business. The best you’ll manage playing real money blackjack online is a house of about 0.4%. With the right knowledge and strategy, you’ll only need a bit of luck to overcome that minuscule edge.
It’s not often I get too excited over a new slots release, especially when it’s coming from Microgaming. While they are the world’s leading developer of gambling amusements for Canadian online casinos, the speed at which they churn out games leads to too many cookie-cutter designs, and too little imagination. But the brand’s new Dragonz Slot is a sure-fire hit waiting to happen.
Microgaming’s engineers infused this new game with fantastic 3D graphics and animations, developing four of the most adorably ferocious creatures as main characters. A teaser video released earlier this month introduced Flint, the flame spitting dragon, Frost, the ice spewing dragon, Switch, the lightning wielding dragon, and Gobble, a ravenous slime flinging dragon reminiscent of a winged toad.
The company finally announced a release date for Dragonz Slot, scheduled to hit Canadian online casinos on November 2, 2016.
Dragonz Slot Features
Dragonz Slot is a 243 Ways to Win game, so you won’t have to worry about activating paylines. The symbols are pretty basic. As usual, Microgaming used playing card numbers 9 thru A, along with the four elemental Dragons, a Wild and a Scatter.
For the most part, Wilds play the traditional role of contributing to winning combinations. But when they land in the right spot, special things can happen, and during free spins, they really go wild!
Wild Deal Bonus: The Wild Deal bonus activates when a Wild symbols lands next to a dragon. All existing wilds on the screen will spread to an adjacent reel, while all dragon symbols will also turn wild. Needless to say, the payout potential can get pretty high when this happens.
Scatter Bonus: The diamond shaped Portal is the Scatter in the new Dragonz Slot. When three or more appear on the reels, players are awarded with free spins. Each of the four dragonz has it’s own special free spins bonus (detailed below). If a player sticks around long enough to trigger free spins 12 times, they will unlock the ability to choose their favorite dragon’s free spins every time they land 3+ scatters thereafter.
4 Dragonz Slot Free Spin Stages
Flint Free Spins: Choosing Flint, the red dragon, grants 10 free spins with Flaming Wilds. Following each spin, Flint will randomly spit bursts of fire onto the reels, turning each symbol he targets into a Wild.
Switch Free Spins: Selecting Switch, the purple dragon, awards 10 free spins with Stashed Wilds. With each spin, this sneaky little devil will absorb Wilds from the reels, stashing them away until he’s collected 3. On the following spin, he’ll toss them all back onto the reels, increasing the odds of striking a big payout.
Frost Free Spins: Tapping Frost, the blue dragon, gives player 10 free spins with Frosty Wilds. In this bonus, Frost will freeze every Wild that appears on the reels, keeping it in place until it contributes to a winning combination.
Gobble Free Spins: Choosing Gobble, the green dragon, delivers 10 free spins with Winning Wilds. During these spins, Gobble can randomly slime any symbol on the screen to turn it wild. Those slimy wilds will stay in place throughout the entire free spin phase, and with a little luck, can rack up some very big wins.
All in all, this new Dragonz Slot has a lot to appreciate, from its stellar 3D graphics and legend/lore theme, to its innovative bonus features. This one is sure to entertain at Royal Vegas and other Canadian online casinos come November.
Attention gamblers all across the midsection of the United States’ east coast – there’s a new playground coming to the area, and with a $1.4 billion price tag, and it’s sure to be a grand one. On Thursday, December 8, a new casino resort will open it’s doors for the very first time.
Managers of MGM Resorts International announced the date of the grand opening on Monday, confirming the highly anticipated launch of MGM National Harbor just two months from now. Situated along the banks of the Potomac River in Maryland, it’s just a hop and a skip (or a quick ferry ride) from Washington D.C.
MGM Casino Exactly 3 Years in the Making
In December of 2013, exactly three years from the company’s projected opening date, MGM casino developers won the bid for a license to build a new casino in Prince George’s County. MGM’s $925 million proposal (later increased to $1.2bn before topping out at $1.4bn), won over state regulators and community leaders, beating out other major casino resort developers like Penn National Gaming, who wanted to build a $700mm casino at its Rosecroft Raceway.
Construction on the new casino property began in April of 2014, destined to feature a 24-story hotel tower with 308 guest rooms, eight restaurants (including the celebrity chef variety), a spa, retail outlets, a large theater, ample meeting and events space, a 4,800-space parking garage and – of course – 135,000 square feet worth of gaming space, equipped with around 3,300 slot machines.
Welcome to MGM National Harbor Casino Resort
“We’re almost ready. Are you?” reads an official statement on the MGM National Harbor website. “On December 8th, we’re changing the game for the DMV (DC, Maryland Virginia area). Expereince[sic] MGM National Harbor, a world class luxury gaming resort just minutes from Washington, D.C on the banks of the Potomac River.”
Guests are invited to “take it all in”, reserving one of the new casino’s beautifully accented hotel rooms, which range anywhere in size from 400 to 3,210 square feet. Visitors can whet their appetite with everything from casual American cuisine at the local TAP Sports Bar, to exquisite delicacies by celebrity chefs José Andrés, Marcus Samuelsson, and Bryan and Michael Voltaggio.
MGM National Harbor promises to host “the entertainment industry’s biggest acts and events” in its intimate theater, boasting a partnership with entertainment booking giant Live Nation. The company is bringing Las Vegas-style nightlife to the east coast with “tableside mixology” at the indoor/outdoor Felt Bar & Lounge, while art aficionados will be able to explore the Heritage Collection throughout the property, featuring the locally inspired works of famous artists, new and old.
Those who’ve been lucky enough to catch a real glimpse inside the new casino resort say it’s truly unbelievable what MGM’s architectural geniuses have put together. The only downside for eager out-of-town visitors is that the hotel won’t open quite as soon as the rest of the newest MGM casino property.
Despite the resort officially opening its doors to the public two days prior, MGM National Harbor won’t begin accepting reservations for in the hotel until Saturday, December 10. All of the resorts other amenities – spa, salon, pools, theater, shopping center, art work, etc. – will be accessible on opening day, December 8.
Established in 2000, Royal Vegas Online Casino is one of the oldest and most reputable internet gambling sites in the world today. In all those years, the Fortune Lounge flagship has exclusively promoted game content from leading developer Microgaming… until now.
Earlier this week, Royal Vegas welcomed Evolution Gaming into the fold of its expansive interactive games portfolio.
For the last few years, Microgaming’s live dealer casino games were the only option available to players. Now, the popular Canadian online casino has integrated a plethora of Evolution Gaming’s arguably superior live dealer table games.
Who’s Better: Microgaming or Evolution?
On this particular topic, Evolution takes the cake, hands down. It’s not that Microgaming’s live dealer ensemble is a bad one. It’s just that it’s simply not as good as what the live dealer casino innovators at Evolution have managed to put together.
Both companies are considered late bloomers in this particular avenue of online gambling. Microgaming may have formed in 1994, but it wasn’t until 2006 that they opened their first live dealer studio, and even then, only baccarat tables were on the menu, followed by live roulette, and finally live blackjack in 2009.
Evolution materialized in 2006, but spent two years building its studio and software platform before stamping its first licencee in 2008. However, by taking the fabled ‘Tortoise and the Hare‘ route, Evolution’s product was by far superior to any of their rivals as soon at its first live dealer table games appeared.
That trend has continued over all these years, with Evolution Gaming being considered top dog in the industry over all of its competitors. In fact, the company received its 7th consecutive award from EGR Magazine in 2016, once again named Live Casino Supplier of the Year.
It’s Not Really A Competition…
But alas, as much as I prefer Evolution’s live dealer casino platform, its recent appearance on Royal Vegas wasn’t a snub in the direction of their long-time partners at Microgaming. In reality, it was Microgaming’s own choice.
In 2015, the heads of Microgaming got together with Evolution and signed a shared platform contract to integrate their former rival’s live dealer table games into Microgaming’s own software.
The strategic deal saw European online casino Betway pioneer the new software last September, becoming the first Microgaming licencee to tout both company’s live casinos.
What’s The Difference?
There are a few differences in the live dealer platforms worth noting. Evolution Gaming runs two studios, one out of Latvia, and another out of Malta. Microgaming hosts its live dealer tables from Toronto, Canada (the only such studio located in North America).
As for game variety, Evolution’s live dealer casino games at Royal Vegas include baccarat, blackjack, Caribbean stud poker, casino hold’em, roulette and three card poker.
Microgaming’s live tables offer baccarat, blackjack, casino hold’em, roulette and sic bo, with single and multi-hand versions of baccarat, blackjack and roulette.
Although the games are similar enough, unlike Microgaming, all of Evolution’s live casino games at Royal Vegas can all be played on desktop and mobile.
If there’s one area where Microgaming prevails in the live dealer table games market, it’s the brand’s exclusive contract with the Playboy dynasty. Only Microgaming hosts live casino games dealt by genuine Playboy Bunnies. However, those particular tables aren’t available at Royal Vegas. Sorry, guys!
Maryland Live! Casino in Hanover, MD became the state’s most popular gambling destination shortly after it officially opened its doors on June 6, 2012. Last month, the casino generated more than twice the revenue of its nearest competitor, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore. But with new competition on the horizon, Maryland Live! is look to shore up its dominance with a new luxury hotel.
The operator broke ground on the 17-story hotel structure Tuesday morning, hosting a big ceremony to celebrate the monumental event. All manner of finely-tailored suits were on hand to commemorate the occasion, including casino execs, local politicians, PR specialists, and – of course – a throng of media personnel.
“It will be a 17-story glass tower, the tallest building in all of Anne Arundel County,” extolled Cordish Companies Chairman, David Cordish, who was donning a hard hat and wielding a shiny new Live!-branded shovel. “And let me tell you, the rooms are going to be first class!”
310 guestrooms and a smattering of top-level penthouse suites, equipped to the nines gas fireplaces, exorbitant chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling windows, are just the tip of the iceberg for Maryland Live! Casino. The hotel will also feature full-service bars, a spa and a 1,500-seat concert venue with a professional stage and regular live music performance on the schedule.
Keeping Up with the Jones’
The addition of the new luxury hotel will convert Maryland Live! Casino into an integrated resort, much like the $1.2 billion “destination” resort, MGM National Harbor, that’s slated to open in Prince George’s County – just 45 minutes to the south – later this year.
Up until now, none of Maryland’s five casinos have been classified as destination properties. But Maryland Live! is well aware that a substantial percentage of its patrons are coming in from the south; areas like Washington D.C. and Virginia. Those same customers could easily shorten their trip by visiting the new MGM National Harbor when it opens its doors.
Customer acquisition and retention is the key to any successful business, and the folks at Cordish Companies, parent of Maryland Live! casino, are under no false pretenses that, without an integrated resort experience, their present success could be swallowed up by the new Las Vegas-style property from MGM Resorts International.
Despite the obvious threat of competition, Mr. Cordish says assured everyone that he has no apprehensions, because his is a family-owned, private operation where the customer always comes first.
“We weren’t and still aren’t worried because we have family and it’s a different ballgame. We don’t answer to Wall Street,” said Cordish. “We do what’s best for our customers.”
Maryland Live Casino Revenue Up, For Now
According to the latest revenue report from the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission, Maryland Live! generated $55,904,771 in slot machines and table games revenue in the month of August, 2016. That’s more than double the $27,716,141 generated by Horseshoe Casino Baltimore in the same period.
Although the opening of the Horseshoe in Baltimore in August 2014 was expected to pull revenue from the Hanover location, that wasn’t really the case. Maryland Live! grossed $57.3 million in August 2014; a drop of just $1.4 million over the last two years, despite the fact that the Horseshoe is actually doing quite well as the state’s second most productive gambling facility.
Whether that status will hold up in 2017 is a much bigger question. It will certainly be interesting to compare the revenue results at the Live! casino with those from MGM National Harbor in the months following its grand opening, scheduled for December 2016.