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The Last Roll Before Opening

P. Kenneth Burns/WYPR

More than 2,000 invited guests took a chance on games at the new Horseshoe Casino Baltimore this week, ahead of the official opening scheduled for Tuesday.  It’s called a “controlled demonstration” to make sure everything is in order.

The demonstration is the last hurdle Caesar’s Entertainment – the Horseshoe’s owner – must clear before regulators award an operating license. If inspectors are satisfied, Caesar’s gets its license.

While guests, invited by the Maryland Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Living Classrooms Foundation, played the slot machines, poker and blackjack Monday and Thursday, 25 inspectors from the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency looked at how the casino operated.

The inspectors scrutinized every detail, from the overall operation of the casino to the games, themselves. They tested all 2,500 slot machines over the last month before the guests had a crack at them.

“Each machine has a theme on it and we check every theme to make sure it is certified,” said Jennifer Wetherell, director of electronic games for the state. “We play the machines; we take the ticket out of the machine and make sure that everything is matching up,” she adds.

Table games are also put under a microscope; right down to the felt used on the table. 

“We review the felt to make sure what they have on there is consistent with the rules of the game,” said Charles LeBoy, state assistant director for gaming.

While poker tables do not have much printed on them beyond logos for the casino and the World Series of Poker, LeBoy said other table games like black jack, craps and roulette will have the odds listed.  The odds printed are checked to make sure they are accurate.  

Inspectors also made sure the playing cards, which were shuffled at the manufacturer; U.S. Playing Card Company. LeBoy said inspectors even went to the company’s plant outside of Cincinnati to make sure the card decks met Maryland regulations.

“[We] reviewed their processes and internal controls and security that they used to pre-shuffle and make sure there’s a true random shuffle of the deck,” he said.

At the end the Cystic Fibrosis and Living Classrooms foundations got to split the proceeds from the demonstrations.