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My Visit to Maryland Live!

Patch editor gambles and learns a big life lesson.

Despite being at the Wednesday night and , I had yet to gamble any money at the new casino.  

So on Monday, I set aside part of my morning to wager a few dollars. (Yes, I am gambling on company time. I know you’re just jealous.)

I drove over to the Arundel Mills area at about 11 a.m. I parked in the garage, took the elevator down to the main casino floor and walked in, confident that I could win a few bucks.

Except that I forgot to bring one very important thing: Money.

Whoops.

As it turns out, I did locate five $1 bills in my wallet, which I figured would be enough to let me have fun on the cheap slot machines.

BUT FIRST, I had to go and sign up for the Live! Rewards card, which promised to offer free slot money and big discounts on food and other things. Apparently, you get a point for every dollar you gamble. Which is nice, except that you need about 400 trillion points to earn enough for a trip to the salad bar.

Nevertheless, I had dreams of winning it big, so I shuffled over to the 25-cent video poker machines. (Took me quite a while to find them. Next time, I am bringing a Sherpa.)

I sat down at the shiny machine, put a dollar in the slot and … saw it come right back to me. I tried again. Rejected, again. I flattened the bill against my stomach. No success.

Feeling a bit like George Costanza, I found myself both irked and amused at the notion of a casino that refused to take my money.

I hit the “service” button on the machine and waited. And waited. And waited. Eight minutes later, I got up and bothered a friendly employee on the casino floor. I’ll call her Denise.

“So… these machines don’t seem interested in my money,” I said.

“What kind of money are you trying to put in?” Denise asked.

I thought of replying with a snide response like “Prussian Francs,” but held myself.

“One dollar bills,” I said.

“Oh, I think there’s a five dollar minimum,” Denise said. “But let me check with someone else.”

Denise checked with another woman, who was apparently on the “slots team.”

“Five dollar minimum. Five dollar minimum,” Mrs. Slots Team said.

“Even for 25-cent games?” I asked. She nodded, as if there were large neon signs at every corner informing us of these rules.

The next step was to then hustle over to the cashier, who accepted my sorry dollar bills in exchange for a crisp five spot.

Finally, I was ready to gamble. I bet a quarter. Lost a quarter. Bet a quarter. Lost a quarter. This went on a while, so I switched machines. I bet a quarter and won … 50 cents! Then lost. Then lost again.

I was broke within 20 minutes. 

But I had fun, I suppose. And I will be back. 

Next time, armed with a briefcase of $5 bills.

Karts Huseonica June 12, 2012 at 11:04 AM
Thanks Tim for sharing your personal experience with us. Very interesting... and amusing ;-) Cheers, Karen & Art Huseonica
Ronald June 12, 2012 at 12:12 PM
I appreciate the 'heads-up'. Give it time and the minimum will change to $20 - then$50 - -then $100. Gimmicks everywhere. Try the salad bar across the street at the Golden Trough - at least thee you get your moneys worth. Ron
John June 12, 2012 at 12:42 PM
I hope I don't come across as rude (but I probably will:-) - after working in a major Vegas casino for 4 years, slots are for suckers. Seriously - it's where the sucker tourist go. If you want any real chance at winning money you need table games. The casinos also know this which is why all casinos make their real profits off slots and also the reason casinos are more than happy to offer only slots and not table games. It's a cash cow. After 4 years, 8 hour per shift of walking the casino floor I can count the "big" slot jackpots on one hand. And when most people "won" they were still down - meaning they hit the $10,000 prize but had put in much more. Typical odds of "hitting" the slot jackpot are 1 in 262,000. For quarter slots, it means you'd have to put in 65,500 quarters ($16,375) - but that machine's jackpot might be $10,000. See where I'm going with this? Then there's the pure myth that the longer you play the more likely you are to win. Each spin is independent. Here's a quick question to test you: If you flip a quarter 9 times and it lands on heads all 9 times, what are the odds it'll land on tails on the 10th flip? 50%. Each flip is independent. This keeps people at the machine, thinking they are "bound to win." Nope. It means you can sit at a slop machine with $100,000 worth of quarters for a solid week and not win. In fact, odds prove you'll lose the whole $100K. Take your family out and have some fun....anywhere but a slot casino.
Meryl Tseng June 12, 2012 at 01:08 PM
I had pretty much the same experience when I went. First it took us forever to figure out where to put the money, on the penny slots it wasn't obvious at all. Then we ran into the same problem with the $5 minimum. We also discovered that the minimum bet on the "penny slots" was $0.50! Explain that one to me...We also discovered that some of the slots with touch screen buttons are so sensitive that you easily accidentslly trigger a maximum bet when putting money in the machine.
Bob Tonucci June 12, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Ah, thanks for the info -- I assumed that I could walk in and drop a penny into a penny slot!
Shanna June 12, 2012 at 01:13 PM
It's entertainment.....and that is all it should be. I love playing slots. I only spend between $50-$100 when I go, maybe more if I win and spend the winning there, but it's entertainment. My kids are grown and I enjoy sitting down and trying to win a jackpot. Do I think I will win? Probably not, but I hope so. If I win enough money to go to dinner while I am there or leave and get something to eat......guess what? I am happy with that and I had a nice fun time. I like video games and I like video slots. I still do things with my kids and take my grandkids on vacation at least once a year. But with my money I scrape and my free time, I like slots......I don't run there and spend every single cent I have trying to win "THE JACKPOT". I go because I find it entertaining. Also, Maryland Live does not have tables yet, not because it make more money off of slots, but because Maryland has not been approved to have table games yet. You want table games? Well talk to an offical of Maryland and let them know. If they get them it will create about a 1,000 more jobs.
Shanna June 12, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Machines are played "per line". So if a penny machine has 25 different ways to win, each of those are called lines. You would be paying for a penny a line. So 25 winning lines X .01 per line = 0.25 per pull. If you are paying .50 minimum per pull then you are playing a machine with 50 different ways to win. That's going to be all machines and all slot machines, doesn't matter where you go, are going to be like that. And it doesn't matter what denomination you are playing, you need to pay attention to how many lines you play. There are .25 and up machines that have only one line. You can also increase how many per line you play. You don't have to play .01 per line, you can up that to .02 per line or .03 per line. The more you play per line, the more money you will win when you get a hit. But each machine is different. One penny machine may only be .75 to play the max when another one may be $4.50 to play the max. So again you have to look at the machine and understand how many lines and how much per line you are paying and whether or not you think it's worth your while to put that much money in.
Tim Lemke (Editor) June 12, 2012 at 01:32 PM
To be clear, the minimum money you can put into a machine is $5, but that doesn't mean you have to bet that much. I could have cashed out after losing 25 cents and gotten $4.75 back. There are some machines that have higher minimum bets, so be sure to read the machine or ask a staff member if you're not sure. Meryl - that's very interesting about the "penny" slots.
John June 12, 2012 at 01:44 PM
The Union Plaza in Vegas has penny slots. Interesting crowd in that area.
Betty June 12, 2012 at 02:01 PM
People in Maryland have to complain about everything..... I agree with Shanna.... It's entertainment and nobody is forcing people to go there..... If you don't like how it is stay away..... Sorry for the rant but I am tired of the complaining ..... Maryland Live is beautiful inside and it JUST opened so of course there is going to be some problems.... I for one am glad for the people who were able to get jobs......
George June 12, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I'm surprised you got in. We went over last Friday at about 4:00 pm and had no problem parking in the garage right next to the elevator. The garage was suprisingly empty. But we knew something was wrong when we saw lots of people walking back to their cars saying they couldn't get in. Nonetheless, we went down and when we arrived at the elevator lobby, we were directed to wait outside with the others for an approximate 2 hour wait. Couldn't even get to the restaurants without waiting in the 2 hour casino line. We wanted no part of that and left. Strange part is we oculd see thorugh the glass doors that there were actually several open machines and the place didn't appear to be overly packed. I did see they were letting handicapped people and their groups "cut" the line which I guess is ok as long as they are legitamately handicapped and they don't have hoardes of people in their party. BTW: Who was paying for all the county cops there? Aren't they supposed to busy rounding up dates for Leopold? Also: More proof you can't believe anything Cordish says.....The painted arrows pointing to the elevators in the garage are backwards. They actually lead to hte opposite end of the garage (towards Costco) AWAY from the elevators. Seemed to be causing lots of confusion.
George June 12, 2012 at 03:01 PM
You must not live next to the place Betty. A lot of us were here way before Cordish even dreamed of the place. I've got no problem with people throwing away their money. As long as they don't ask me to support them AND they don't clog up the access to my neighborhood which was here well before the mall.
Stephanie Lantz June 12, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Currently I don't have a big interest in the casino part of Maryland Live, but the restaurants are of great interest. I love Bobby Flays Burger Palace and have been to the one in DC many times. I have heard a number of people say you can not get to the restaurants without standing in the long line for the casino entrance. Are there any future plans for patrons to get into the restaurants without the added hassle of the casino? I feel the restaurants are losing business due to the hassle of the casino lines. Somehow there should be a plan that if you want to go into the restaurant sections only, you can bypass those that are waiting for the casino. If you want the restaurants only, maybe a wrist band could be used to identify that. Just a thought.
Tim Lemke (Editor) June 12, 2012 at 03:53 PM
When I went yesterday, I walked right in. There were no lines and there were plenty of empty tables at Bobby's Burger Palace. Granted, it was 11:30 a.m. on a Monday. You can get into Bobby's Burger Palace without actually going onto the casino floor (so kids can eat there), but I'm not sure how it would work if there's a long line to get into the building.
MAW June 12, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Sounds like most of these expierences to the new casino end up like a typical trip to the MVA....
Bee June 13, 2012 at 01:45 AM
We live in Millersville but we are on a cross country trip so we missed the opening of the casino. We are in Vegas right now and this evening we are going downtown to the older side of Vegas where they tell us the chances of winning are greater than playing the machines on the strip. We'll see what happens :-)
Betty June 13, 2012 at 02:17 PM
@ George I live right down the road from the casino.....In a few months things will settle down with the traffic....As with anywhere that you live...if land is available somebody is going to build on it eventually....

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