NANCY POWELL ¦ Staff Writer
The Casino at Ocean Downs, located on Route 589 near the intersection of Route 50, could expand its offerings to include table games. The casino has 800 slot machines(Nov. 30, 2012) The Casino at Ocean Downs may add table games, but no decision has been made about whether to do it.
During Monday’s meeting of the Local Development Council in Snow Hill, Joe Cavilla, general manager of the casino, said he hopes to have an answer about table games by March.
Table games are now allowed at the casino following the passage of Question 7, the referendum question on the Nov. 6 ballot in Maryland.
In addition to deciding whether to add table games, the company must determine where to put them because the casino’s floor space was not designed for them. The casino has 800 slot machines and Cavilla does not want some of them removed to make room for table games.
In addition to being able to add table games, the Casino at Ocean Downs may increase its entertainment offerings.
The legislation legalizing slot machines at five casinos in the state permitted the Casino at Ocean Downs to have only a single piano played by one person. It also permitted fireworks displays.
Legislation passed during a special session of the Maryland General Assembly convened in August by Gov. Martin O’Malley permits expanded entertainment.
The original legislation legalizing slot machines specified that the Casino at Ocean Downs could not offer the “playing of live music, floor shows, dancing, dancing exhibitions, performances or any other form of entertainment in or near the video lottery facility.” That wording was eliminated in the bill passed in August, thus permitting more entertainment.
In August, during the last meeting before Monday’s meeting, board members said they wanted an explanation of entertainment permitted at the casino and they wanted a representative of the Board of License Commissioners, the board that regulates beer, wine and liquor licenses, to attend its next meeting.
April Payne, administrator of the Board of License Commissioners, told the Local Development Council that the Casino at Ocean Downs has a seven-day beer, wine and liquor license that permits live entertainment, of up to 10 pieces, inside seven days a week until 2 a.m. during the 40-day racing season. Then the permitted entertainment of up to 10 pieces reduces to a maximum of five days per week. From May 1 until Nov. 1, outside entertainment, still up to a maximum of 10 pieces, is permitted in the grandstand area four days a week until 11 p.m.
If Cavilla wants to increase the number of pieces of entertainment, he may request a hearing before the Board of License Commissioners.