Maryland Lawmakers Consider Airport Slot Machine Bill
A new bill is on the table that would allow slot machines inside the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Slot machines are a great way to bring additional revenues to a state in the US. In most cases, slots are added to casinos or other gambling facility types. However, the games have been added to other businesses in the past, including airports. That is exactly what two Maryland lawmakers want to see happen in their state. Just recently Dels. Susan Krebs and Ric Metzgar filed new legislation to add slots to the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
House Bill 733
With House Bill 733, over 3,000 slots would be added to the airport. Of course, there are regulations connected to the bill as to how the slots would operate. The operator of the games would need to apply for the installations before April 15, 2024. Voters in the state would also have to approve the gambling expansion.
Metzgar sees the initiative as a great way to bring new revenues to the state. The lawmaker pointed out that delayed flights along with people hanging out at the airport would be able to use the games as a form of entertainment while on-site.
The new bill will be heard during a hearing on February 23 within the House Ways and Means Committee. If the bill is able to gain any ground, it would join the casino gaming, sports betting, lottery, and horse racing industries.
The airport has been seen as a revenue driver in the past for slot games, but efforts failed to move forward. The effort goes back as far as 2009 when it comes to adding slots to the space. The airport is located between Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C., so it serves a large portion of people each year. Before COVID-19, the airport served over 13 million passengers in 2019.
With so many passengers, the airport slots would definitely be a revenue driver for the state. The drawback seems to be the amount of space at the airport. Officials of the facility say that a lack of space would cause the venue to only be able to support 1,000 machines instead of the suggested 3,000+ within the legislation.
No matter the number, with millions of people moving through the airport, the games would bring new revenues to the state. An estimate has not been provided, but one would imagine it would be in the millions due to the traffic of the airport.
Airport Slots are not Uncommon
As mentioned, airport slots are not a new concept. Slots have been added to other airports in the US and are quite successful. Of course, the airports with the slots are located in Nevada. Both Harry Reid in Las Vegas and the Reno-Tahoe International Airport offer gaming machines.
Harry Reid houses around 1,400 slot machines while Reno’s airport is home to around 250 games. The games are enjoyed by travelers coming into the area and as they fly back home. The games seem to do fairly well, mainly due to the need for entertainment when stuck at the airport for extended time periods.
Chicago has also decided to offer slot machines at the O’Hare International and Midway airports. However, these games will not be added until the city decides who will operate the area’s casino resort. Proposals are currently under consideration, and we should know in the coming weeks or months who earns the license.
However, the operator can choose to add slots to the airport or ignore the option. It will be interesting to see how things fare in Maryland and Chicago, as perhaps it may lead other airports to make the same additions in the future.