The dice were rolling, the roulette wheel was spinning and cards were – literally – laid on the table Tuesday night, as Hollywood Casino Perryville premiered Maryland's first table games.
Casino officials unveiled their 20 table games to local media, invited guests and representatives of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission. The games had to be observed in operation by the commission before they could be approved to open to the public Thursday.
That approval came early Wednesday afternoon, a spokesperson for the casino confirmed, and the casino wasted no time telling people about it on its Facebook Page.
"Hollywood Casino Perryville is going live with Table Games RIGHT NOW!" the casino's posted on Facebook shortly after 2 p.m. "There's even more GREAT news, we're also 24-hours, 7days a week starting now!! Come in for your chance to play the hottest table games!! You don't want to miss this!!"
The Cecil County gaming emporium, just off the Perryville-Port Deposit interchange with I-95, opened in 2010, the first slots casino to open in Maryland. It also becomes the first of the state's three operating casinos to open table games.
The latter fact was recognized in Tuesday's opening ceremony, which included a parade of the table dealers.
"These guys are going to have the honor of being the first dealers in Maryland and we wanted them to feel proud of that," Hollywood Casino Perryville General Manager Bill Hayles said.
About 100 people were invited to Tuesday's event. They were able to play craps, roulette, blackjack and various forms of poker.
"We're not ever really gamblers, we just thought it would be good to come out, and it's really cool; it's a good time," Alan Turns of Newark, Del., who came with his wife Teri, said while at a roulette table.
Turns said guests had the opportunity to learn as they played.
"This is fun," he said. "It's a good time; it's low pressure."
Heather Ruleau and Jennifer Mesher-Bottino, both of Bel Air, played blackjack at the next table.
"We're excited about this coming to Maryland, obviously not having to drive to Delaware or West Virginia," Ruleau said of table games. "They definitely need more table games."
A portion of the evening's proceeds were donated to three local community groups: Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna, the Cecil County Help Center and the Cecil College Foundation.
"They're a great economic development booster," ChrisAnn Szep, vice president of institutional advancement and government relations at Cecil College, said of Hollywood Casino while watching roulette. "It's important to our county, it really is."
As of noon Wednesday, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency was still in the process of reviewing data collected during Tuesday night's controlled demonstration.
Carole Everett, communications director for the MLGCA, said staffers looked at the casino's internal controls, employee training, surveillance and security and technical systems for the games.
At 2:30 p.m., MLGCA announced in a news release that Director Stephen Martino had signed the casinos license and the games were open to the public.