Maryland Live has already made its mark in slots. In February, it generated about $8 million more in slots money than Parx Casino in Philadelphia, the Mid-Atlantic's second-largest slots casino.

While more labor-intensive, table games promise more payoff for Cordish since they are taxed at only 20 percent, while 67 percent of slots revenue goes to the state. Cordish officials have complained about the slots rate in the past, but Weinberg said the current situation is sustainable.

Out-of-state competitors are not standing still. Operators in Atlantic City, still the nation's second-largest casino market when measured by gross revenue, have bankrolled a major marketing push that includes advertising in the Baltimore area. The proliferation of casinos has forced the city to try to change its image, said Liza Cartmell, the CEO of the Atlantic City Alliance.

"We lost our monopoly long ago, and we realize gamers can take shorter trips if they just want to play," she said. "We're trying to show that we've got more of a broad-based spectrum of attractions, and that this is where people can come if they want to get away for a day or two."

Slots revenue at the Hollywood casino in Charles Town, W.Va., has dropped 15 percent since Maryland Live opened, a smaller decrease than the Penn National-owned casino had predicted, said Al Britton, the casino's general manager.

He does not expect a deep dive in revenue due to new competition from tables at Maryland Live. Hollywood has the advantage of veteran dealers, smoking and non-smoking areas, a wider variety of games and easier access from the highway, Skinner said.

"The traffic getting to Maryland Live is difficult, which is putting it lightly, and it hasn't gotten better," he said.

Maryland Live officials, too, are planning for a more crowded casino market. Cordish Cos. is "pretty far down the line on design" of a new hotel near Maryland Live, though it has set no timetable for building it, Weinberg said.

Of the 700 new employees brought in to deal table games, 500 came from the local dealer school run by Maryland Live. They've been mentored by the 200 experienced dealers lured from other casinos.

"Getting in on the ground floor, it's the sort of opportunity I've been looking for," said Maggie Neiss, who trained at the school and worked the table where Cordish made his roll.

The 23-year-old Glen Burnie resident hopes to make a career of dealing after working as a waitress at a Cheesecake Factory.

Table games do increase the risk for problem gambling, said Sam Skolnik, author of the book "High Stakes: The Rising Cost of America's Gambling Addiction."

"It's very easy to not consider the various social costs of increased gaming," said Skolnik, who began investigating the impact of gambling expansion as a reporter in Seattle.

Skolnik, who now lives in the Maryland suburbs of D.C., said he expects to see an increase in addiction and subsequent difficulties for problem gamblers who rack up debt, show up late to work and abuse or ignore family members.

Table games, he said, attract "action" gamers — rather than "escape" gamblers playing slots — who believe they can beat the house or fellow players by studying poker and blackjack.

"For 99 percent of them, that's not the case," Skolnik said. "And for a small percentage of them, there can be very, very bad consequences. Maryland has set aside money for problem gaming, and yes, the state is getting revenue for schools. But it's very rare that anyone takes an honest look at the impact of making it so easy to gamble."

Doug Walker, a professor of economics at the College of Charleston who has studied gambling, said academic research on the impact of casinos has been largely inconclusive. While the tax benefits to individual states probably are overstated, he said, the positive impact on the job market and tourism cannot be ignored.

"In Maryland's case, with casinos already there, the biggest impact of adding table games is for the consumer," he said. "They don't have to drive so far anymore."

A previous version of this article misidentified the general manager of the Hollywood casino in Charles Town, W.Va. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.