During a recent night at Bingo World in Linthicum, three sisters from Glen Burnie - Sandy, Donna and Brenda - play nearly 100 cards between them.
"This is our time out: no work, no kids, no husbands," says Sandy Turner, 44, a once-a-week regular at the commercial bingo hall, where the smells of French fries and cigarette smoke hang in the air.
Like a hopeful handful of the more than 400 other players, the sisters are just one call from winning bingo.
Commercial bingo operators, on the other hand, worry that they're one call from losing their game. They are waiting to see if the state approves slot machines as a way to bring in needed revenue.
Maryland's for-profit bingo, a vestige of the last century that is unique outside Nevada and Indian reservations, will be hard-pressed to survive against Maryland slots, they say.
"It's like a nuclear bomb going off," said Edward O. Wayson Jr., an Annapolis lobbyist who represents the county's parlors and whose family has run bingo games for decades.
"There's life after a nuclear bomb, though."
There are other big decisions on the table as well. Anne Arundel - home to nearly half of the state's commercial halls - may raise its tax rate on bingo.
The county's leaders also must decide whether to allow a linked, big-stakes game among the county's three halls.
None of those may matter if the General Assembly approves slots.
"I would think that [slots] would pretty much put professional bingo out of business," said Mary Baldridge, the chairwoman of the Anne Arundel Amusement License Commission, which oversees for-profit bingo.
The game survived when the state banned slots in 1968. It remains alive in Anne Arundel, Calvert and Washington counties. Three halls operate in Anne Arundel - in Laurel, Linthicum and Wayson's Corner in South County - two in Calvert and two in Washington.
The Wynn family, which runs the behemoth Las Vegas-based Mirage Resorts Inc., opened Wayson's Bingo in the early 1960s. It is now a Wayson family business and, like the other halls, has stumbled upon tough competition for the gambling dollar.
The way Wayson tells it, first came Keno. When the Maryland Lottery introduced the bingo-like game in 1993, the bingo halls felt the pinch.
In 1995, Delaware approved slots, and the pinch grew tighter.
"We haven't done well since," Wayson said.