In a previous post on the site I wrote about my experience at Live! Casino in Maryland. While they’ve been opening new outposts as of late in Pennsylvania, their original property in Maryland remains their largest and most comprehensive.
Recently I made a return visit there, my first since the arrival of COVID-19. Here’s some thoughts I have from the visit.
First, I continued to be impressed by its overall size. The casino floor is pretty massive, and there’s a really good mix of classic and new games. The casino’s approaching the 10 year mark, but some of the games they installed at opening are still workhorses for them.
One area where this is definitely true is their classic WMS machines. They’ve still got a ton of them in operation, with sections of machines focused on games like King of Africa and Enchanted Unicorn. These games tend to have fans and so it’s not surprising to see them still in heavy use, but rarely do I see casinos with this many still in operation of the classic versions.
However, Live! Maryland, like Ocean Casino Resort, opened in the early 2010s, when the machines were still getting out there but at the tail end of their lives, so their machines are also probably still in good shape relative to those many casinos are retiring, which are even older. The large stock means they’ll probably be around for awhile as well.
They were much heavier users of plexiglass than other casinos I’ve visited since COVID-19 struck, largely on their more popular games like those WMS ones, as well as Ultimate Fire Link, Lightning Link and so on. And those games were all in heavy use so it’s understandable why they did it that way.
But that meant well more than half of their games were active, and the casino floor felt busy despite the 25% occupancy restriction active during the visit, and my time there was on weekday afternoons and evenings. Given the recent reporting that Live! revenue is down only about 13% vs. last year, they seem to be holding up fine.
Speaking of Ultimate Fire Link, fans of the game may be happy to learn that there’s a few machines in high limit with the nickel denom as the floor, meaning you can play as little as a $1 a spin on machines that tend to be much more available.
I noticed a lot of games with some or all of the progressive meters frozen, a much more common practice in places like Atlantic City and Las Vegas. It’s always a bummer to see, as that’s just payback kept out of the pockets of players. But like those other markets, some of the games would be frozen in some places and not in others, so if you were savvy enough you could just play a different machine elsewhere in the casino.
Despite the casino having a healthy amount of classic games, it was installing some of the newest games as well – I saw two banks of The Vault, they were in the process of installing some of the newer IGT games, and there were zones on the floor that had a variety of newer games.
It seemed they were updating certain pockets of the floor, and doing so to space out the newer games as well. It’s always welcome to see a casino investing in some new games to play, keeping the gaming floor fresh.
Drink service was plentiful and quick – I didn’t have a complaint throughout my time there. I was also impressed to see them constantly stocked with extra waters; it seems like an obvious with mask wearing requirements but many casinos don’t have that worked out even now.
The restaurant and shopping options were pared down as expected right now. I grabbed a quick bite from Orchid Kitchen and enjoyed it, as well as had one sit down dinner at Cheesecake Factory. All were fine.
I wrote about the comp situation in my previous post, but I still think it’s a bit tough – every 600 points earned is $1 in comps and $1 in point value, which can be redeemed in free play or comps. 600 points, however, is $600 in coin-in, so while a bit more generous than, say, Caesars Rewards, it certainly takes some play to build up anything of real value. But you can redeem as little as $1 in free play from the points if you really wanted to.
On the bright side, you can redeem as soon as you’ve earned it. On the down side, they expire after just 90 days of inactivity, so if you’re not a frequent visitor, you’re not going to get very far.
One thing that’s changed is with the addition of Live! Philadelphia and Live! Pittsburgh, this is now a multi-property program, and your card will work at all three. Comp dollars, points and tiers are also supported across all three properties. And with Philly not hugely far from the Baltimore property, those who want a bit of variety can certainly play at both to concentrate their play.
Overall I had a fun time once more, especially getting to play games I hadn’t in some time, and would make a return should I have reason to be that direction. But I’m more motivated by the ability to play games I normally can’t find vs. the comp program, which is too localized for someone outside the region.
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