Maryland Lawmakers File Bill to Allow Slot Machines at Baltimore/Washington Airport

Posted on: February 5, 2022, 06:09h. 

Last updated on: February 6, 2022, 02:54h.

A pair of Republican Maryland lawmakers filed a bill Thursday that would open the door for slot machines at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI).

Passengers walk past a timetable display at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Two Maryland lawmakers filed a bill on Thursday that would allow the aiport to host slot machines. (Image: BWI)

Dels. Ric Metzgar (R-Essex), and Susan Krebs (R-Sykesville) filed House Bill 733, which would allow more than 3,000 gaming machines to be located at the airport. That’s contingent on certain conditions being met.

For one, an operator would need to submit a license application no later than April 15, 2024. In addition, it would require voters across the state to approve the expanded gaming measure.

In an interview with WBAL-TV, Metzgar said it’s a great way for the state to generate extra revenue.

Delayed flights, people are still at the airport hanging out, nothing to do, this is a captive audience, and it’s an opportunity for us to get outside money,” he said.

A hearing on the bill will take place on Feb. 23 in the state House Ways and Means Committee.

Besides horse racing and the lottery, Maryland currently has six casinos, and sports betting at brick-and-mortar facilities started in December. Mobile sports betting is expected to launch in the state later this year.

Previous Efforts Unsuccessful at BWI

This isn’t the first time lawmakers in the Old Line State have proposed adding slots at the airport. The Maryland General Assembly website notes that legislators offered a similar bill in 2009. Other efforts failed during the past decade as well.

As its name suggests, BWI is located between the two major cities, 10 miles south of Baltimore and 25 miles north of DC. It’s the largest of the three airports serving the Washington area. In 2019, 13.3 million passengers boarded planes there, making it the 22nd-largest US airport in passenger traffic.

BWI, like Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, serves as an operating base for Southwest Airlines.

But while it’s a busy facility, airport officials told WBAL that there may not be enough space for that many slots at BWI. At best, they said the airport could accommodate about 1,000 machines.

Two US Airports Offer Slots, Guess Where

BWI would not be the first airport in the country to offer slots to passengers awaiting a flight.

Anyone who has flown into or out of Harry Reid in Las Vegas or the Reno-Tahoe International Airport has likely seen the gaming machines in both Nevada airports.

Harry Reid, formerly known as McCarran International, offers about 1,400 machines. In Reno, the airport there has about 250 machines. The slot machines at the Nevada airports are considered some of the toughest in the state, as people can’t go freely to another casino as they can elsewhere.

Elsewhere, the city of Chicago has included the option of operating slot machines at O’Hare International and Midway airports to the bidder it selects to develop a casino resort in the city. City officials are reviewing five proposals for its first casino. However, it remains uncertain whether the winning bidder will take up the city’s optional offer.