Last month decision makers in Maryland decided that it would be beneficial for local casinos to allow their dealers to hit on a soft 17. This decision will mathematically ensure that the house advantage is heightened and casinos will enjoy increased revenues. The new rule gives the house an advantage of 0.2% – an amount that will certainly add up over time.
Casinos in Maryland had been trying for quite some time to change gaming rules to allow their dealers to take a card when their hands totaled 17, but included an ace – thus making a “soft 17”. Casino operators are hoping that this increased advantage will counterbalance their payout odds of 3-to-2 on player blackjacks, which are much more player-friendly than casino payouts in other states, which are usually 6-to-5.
The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission approved the new rule, but the decision must be confirmed by the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review – the ultimate decision maker in the state’s battle over blackjack rules. As the new rule will increase revenues for both the casinos and the state, it is almost a foregone conclusion that it will be accepted.