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To maximize cash, casinos convince gamblers to sleep over

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Local,Maryland,Matt Connolly,Prince Georges County

States in the mid-Atlantic region are expected to focus on overnight guests as they gear up to compete with an even more lucrative Maryland casino industry.

"One of the truths is your overnight customer is far more valuable to you than your day-trip customer," said Frank Fantini, CEO of Fantini Research and publisher of its Gaming Report, who noted that Atlantic City, N.J., casinos as well as Dover Downs in Delaware and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia all have hotels. "They will use those hotels to continue to try and attract the higher-value players."

An attached hotel is a key component of a recently authorized casino in southern West Virginia, meant to pull customers from Virginia. Having somewhere to stay means gamblers can spend more time -- and money -- in the casinos.

With Maryland legalizing table games, Fantini said, casinos in nearby states likely will begin offering discounts like free hotel rooms and restaurant meals to get out-of-staters to spend the night. Such deals, however, can shift funds away from promotions for those who spend only an afternoon.

The new casino in Prince George's County, which cannot open until 2016, is expected to fit this mold. Likely operator MGM Resorts International, which is planning an $800 million facility billed as a "luxury resort," could wrangle weekenders from outside the Washington area at the expense of Maryland Live! Casino, its Hanover counterpart less than 40 miles away.

"There's only a certain pool of money," said Maryland-based gambling analyst James Karmel. "That Prince George's casino could have the capacity to draw from outside the region." - Matt Connolly

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