Currently, residents in the greater Baltimore and Washington, D.C., area have to trek to Atlantic City to find an established live poker room. But it’s only a matter of time before they have a much closer and convenient place to play.Jefferson County in West Virginia voted by a 2-to-1 margin over the weekend to add table games, including poker, to the Charles Town Race and Slots property in West Virginia. While other counties in West Virginia have offered poker for years, it was the first time the residents of Jefferson County agreed to get on board. Charles Town is just over an hour drive away from Baltimore and D.C.“We’re thrilled. We’re relieved," John Finamore, a senior vice president at the thoroughbred track’s parent company, Penn National Gaming, said after the results of the vote were announced. “I can’t wait to start filling those $45,000 jobs we promised.”The promise of new employment opportunities and greater revenue for local schools was enough to sway voters into approving the addition of table games just two years after voting against it. In 2007, a similar referendum was defeated, but this year’s measure passed easily, with an unofficial final vote of 6,279 people for the addition of the table games and 4,343 people against the new games.Although fewer than 11,000 people voted on this issue in this small West Virginia county, the significance of a poker room in Charles Town goes a long way for poker enthusiasts in the areas. More than eight million people live in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan area, and until now, the closest poker room available was nearly a three-hour drive away. Once a poker room is set up in Charles Town, that commute will likely be cut in half.As for exactly when poker will be available in Charles Town, that is still unclear. The Associated Press reported in a Dec. 6 article that the property would feature blackjack, craps, and roulette before bringing poker into the mix , crediting Finamore as the source of that information.But a Dec. 8 article in West Virginia’s The Journal reported that poker could actually be offered before the other table games . The newspaper credits that information from Al Britton, the general manager of the Charles Town Race and Slots.Blackjack, craps, and roulette are expected to be up and running by this summer.
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