About 60 years ago, only Nevada and four Southern Maryland counties legally operated slot machines that paid in hard cash. In the late 1940s, Southern Maryland counties, including St. Mary’s, Calvert, Charles, and Anne Arundel, individually legalized slot machines.
In the late 1940s and 1950s, slot machines were a significant part of Southern Maryland’s economy.
Charles County was particularly known for its slot machines in the 1950s. U.S. 301, from Waldorf to the Potomac River Bridge, was dubbed “Slot Machine Alley” or “Little Vegas.”
By the 1960s, Maryland had three times as many establishments with federally taxed gambling devices as Nevada.
In 1963, a law was passed to phase out slot machines by 1968. The ban on slot machines lasted until the early 1970s when the House of Delegates legalized any form of gambling, including slot machines, in 10 counties, provided it was sponsored by a nonprofit organization.
Governor Martin O’Malley took steps to expand Maryland’s gambling offerings in the 2012 legislative session. Proposals included the legalization of an additional casino in Prince George’s County and the introduction of table games in existing casinos. After a series of legislative sessions and a statewide voter referendum, a casino license was awarded to MGM Resorts International for a casino resort at National Harbor, which opened in 2016.