Opening night at Horseshoe Casino Baltimore went off without a major hitch despite larger-than-expected crowds, long lines and some early jitters, casino and city officials said Wednesday.
About 15,000 people visited the casino Tuesday night, said general manager Chad Barnhill. Officials had only expected about 10,000, and lines stretched around the building from well before the casino's 9 p.m. opening until well after.
"I think it's pent-up demand," Barnhill said. "We had everybody in the doors shortly after midnight."
Officials had feared that the casino's opening, which overlapped with a 7:05 p.m. Orioles game at nearby Oriole Park at Camden Yards, would cause major congestion on Russell Street, but that wasn't the case, they said.
Barnhill said traffic was heavy at times, but special-event traffic officers were on the scene directing to where they needed to go. He said he "didn't hear a lot of complaints" from casino visitors about traffic.
Kathy Dominick, a city Transportation Department spokeswoman, said "traffic conditions ran smoothly throughout the night."
The crowd at the Orioles game was announced at 16,406, a small weeknight showing.
The casino has its own seven-story parking garage with more than 3,300 spaces, though one story is reserved for employees and two for valet service. The garage reached capacity at one point in the night, as did the $442 million casino.
Dominick said traffic and parking needs remained manageable in part because people arrived at the casino in many different ways — including by taxi, on foot and via public transportation.
"We had a mix of people coming from all over downtown," she said.
Fewer than 1,200 passengers used the city's special Charm City Circulator route from downtown to the casino, and the city will be scaling the route down through the rest of the week from 10-minute intervals to 15-minute intervals, Dominick said.
It will run again at 10-minute intervals through the Labor Day weekend.
Barnhill said the casino will evaluate the use of the temporary Circulator route to gauge interest in a more permanent shuttle between downtown and the casino.
Some guests on opening night reported waiting more than three hours in line. Some got testy standing in line on a warm night. There was shouting and arguments about people cutting in line.
Lt. Sarah Connolly, a Baltimore police spokeswoman, said Wednesday that no major incidents were reported, but she couldn't "confirm or deny" whether anyone was detained or arrested throughout the night.
Major crimes at gambling facilities have to be reported to the state.
The casino declined to release its revenue for opening night. Barnhill said it was "still going through the count" on Wednesday.
The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency will release August revenue numbers for Horseshoe and the state's four other casinos about a week after the month ends.
Large crowds and heavy traffic could test the casino again on Saturday, its first weekend day of operations. A midday Navy-Ohio State football game is scheduled at M&T Bank Stadium, and there is another evening Orioles game at Camden Yards.
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