It is common knowledge that gambling has existed for thousands of years. However, casinos in the form that we know them as today first appeared in 17th-century Venice. State-side, this industry took off post World War II, when Las Vegas solidified itself as the world’s gambling Mecca. In 1999, The Venetian Las Vegas gave birth to the mega-resort concept, and the tourism industry has never been the same since.

In the past three decades, gambling hotspots have morphed from locations where seedy people gather to family-friendly destinations that boast fine dining and first-rate live entertainment. The casinos themselves are now much more than luxurious venues where you can spin reels or play a hand of blackjack. They incorporate fitness centers, spas, and all the amenities associated with five-star hotels. That does not include the attractions built around these locales, which exploit the foot traffic generated by them.

Maryland may not be Nevada or New Jersey when it comes to gambling, but casinos became a reality in the Free State in 2008, and so far, there are six such venues that you can visit without leaving its borders. They are all of premium quality and provide the same thrills as their Vegas and Atlantic City counterparts. Below, we list the three closest to the general South Maryland area. If testing your luck is all you hope to do when you visit them, why not practice online first?  

Live! Casino & Hotel

Located in the Arundel Mills commercial district of Hanover, Live! Casino & Hotel is a gaming establishment that opened its doors in 2012. The Baltimore-based Cordish Companies real estate development company owns this spot adjacent to Arundel Mills Mall. Its gaming floor stretches out 160,000 square feet and is home to 200 table games on top of countless video slots from top-end providers such as Aristocrat. Live! Casino & Hotel also boasts a 15,00 square foot poker room with 50 tables.

On-site dining options include The Prime Rib at Live! Casino & Hotel, Phillips Seafood Express, Eight at Luk Fu, Luckies, Bobby’s Burger Palace, En Vivo!, the Cheesecake Factory, David’s Restaurant, and Morty’s Delicatessen. For live entertainment, you can visit Live! Center Stage, a 4,000 square foot customizable space with a multi-plasma video wall that frequently hosts concerts. The R Bar also has live music, as does the Lobby Bar at David’s Restaurant.

Attractions within ten miles of the casino are the Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House, Medieval Times Maryland Castle, National Electronics Museum, and Lake Elkhorn Park.

MGM National Harbor

You can find the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill. It is a subsidiary of MGM Resorts International and adequately portrays the atmosphere and the rich history of Prince George’s County. Construction on this MGM complex which had a price tag of $1.2 billion, began in April of 2014, and it opened in December of 2016.

The resort is a vast complex spanning five city blocks. It includes a 24-story four-star hotel with a 27,000 square foot spa and a 5,000 spot parking garage. The MGM National Harbor’s gaming area is 125,000 square feet, fitting 2,800 gambling machines and 140 game tables. The latter figure does not encompass the 46 poker ones that regularly run cash games and tournaments.

There are eight fine dining and eight quick east restaurants at the National Harbor. The more prestigious eateries are Osteria Costa, Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse, and Fish by José Andrés. For drinks, patrons can enjoy the Blossom Cocktail Lounge, the Felt Bar & Lounge, and the Tap Sports Club & Bar. MGM Resorts International Entertainment delivers world-class shows to the venue’s 3,000 seat theatre.

Places worth a visit near the National Harbor are the Capital Wheel, Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, Torpedo Factory Art Center, and Gadsby’s Tavern Museum.

Ocean Downs

Now, this last one (Ocean Downs) is a bit of a cheat, given that Worcester County usually does not fit the Southern Maryland terminology, despite its geographical location. However, it is on the list because it is a harness racing track owned by Churchill Downs. The company behind the Kentucky Derby.

Construction of this venue began in 1947 in Berlin, near Ocean City. However, its casino opened in 2011. In 2017, it underwent an expansion, and now it has a gaming floor of 70,000 square feet that features 900 slots and ten table games. It is a non-smoking facility, which operates 24/7, with races taking place every Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.

If you want to grab a snack to eat when stepping away from spinning reels or watching horses run, you can do so at Dine and Dash, the Poseidon’s Pub, and Pacers. Other things worth doing in Berlin are visiting the Windmill Creek Vineyard, the Assateague State Park, and playing golf at Rum Pointe Seaside.

About the Author

Shelly Schiff has been working in the gambling industry since 2009, mainly on the digital side of things, employed by However, over her eleven-year career, Shelly has provided content for many other top interactive gaming websites. She knows all there is to know about slots and has in-depth knowledge of the most popular table games. Her golden retriever Garry occupies most of her leisure time. Though, when she can, she loves reading Jim Thompson-like crime novels.

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