Anthony Barksdale Leaves as Security Director of Baltimore Horseshoe

Anthony Barksdale, the Baltimore former acting police commissioner, took as job as the security director of Horseshoe Baltimore when it opened four months ago. The casino announced yesterday Barksdale would be leaving the casino’s service, after only 4 months on the job.

Being Replaced by John Zappas

In a written statement by Horseshoe Baltimore, it was announced that Anthony Barksdale would be leaving the casino’s employ to “to pursue other career opportunities”. His replacement will be John Zappas, who is currently the assistant security director at Horseshoe Baltimore.

Before working at Horseshoe Baltimore, John Zappas was the security chief at the Showboat Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, which closed in September 2014. The Showboat was one of three Atlantic City casinos which closed in September 2014, causing the unemployment of thousands of workers. The Showboat Casino and the Baltimore Horseshoe are both owned by Caesars Entertainment, the largest owner of casinos in the American domestic market.

Horseshoe Baltimore Faces Image Problem

Despite opening to a gala celebration attended by leaders and limelights of Baltimore, the Horseshoe is facing an image problem. Several incidents have tarnished its reputation with locals, so the change in security presumably is both a public relations and efficiency move.

Because Horseshoe Baltimore has the only 24/7 liquor license in the city, it is especially important to have a sparkling reputation. That liquor license is worth a lot of money to the casino operators. Not only do the sales boost revenues, but the sale of liquor also makes gamblers a bit less inhibited, and therefore likelier to gamble more than they otherwise would.

History of Altercations

The security incidents began early in the casino’s operations. On the first Saturday after the casino opened, a food fight broke out around 3am at a pizza restaurant inside the Baltimore Horseshoe. Videos showed yellow-shirted security personnel rushing to break up the altercation.

A New Year’s Day disturbance was captured on film this last Thursday morning about 2:30 am, as three people got into an altercation. Once again, security staff were seen rushing to the scene of the fight. All three involved were escorted off the property, with no arrests being made.

November 2014 Incidents

Records show that there were 25 incidents during November 2014. These incidents include eight “physical altercations”. The list also includes eight thefts or robberies, 3 arrests, and 9 evictions from the property. In most cases, people evicted cannot return to the casino for a lengthy period of time–sometimes forever.

October 2014 Incidents

In October 2014, the number of incidents reported were 36. The list included 7 fights, 13 thefts or robberies, and 15 evictions for being too intoxicated. The numbers for December 2014 have not been released yet.

At a press conference today, reporters asked casino management whether the pattern of incidents had led to a shakeup or to Anthony Barksdale’s departure. The casino’s spokesman referred the press to the previously released statement, then said, “Horseshoe Baltimore’s senior management team thanks Tony for his service during the casino’s initial operating phase and wishes him well in his future endeavors.”

Casinos Draw Unruly Customers

Incidents are not uncommon in casinos. Such venues are open all night. Activities include drinking and the wagering of a lot of money, so emotions run high at times. Part of the issue is image-related, due to the special circumstances involving the casino.

James Carmel, a gaming analyst and history professor at Harford Community College, says that the casino faces a special public relations problem, because it is the only inner city casino in Maryland.

Baltimore Horseshoe Under a “Special Microscope”

According to Professor Carmel, Horseshoe Baltimore “is under a special microscope with regard to any sort of incidents that would make people take notice. It has a unique public relations challenge, in Maryland at least, by being an urban casino as opposed to a suburban casino. In order to compete with Maryland Live, it has to get middle-aged, suburban, high-disposable-income casinogoers, and these are people that are going to be especially put off.

The casino reported they have entertained over a million customers since its opening four months ago, so the low number of incidents have been really quite impressive. It is possible that Anthony Barksdale might have been a short term employee all the time. It is also possible that Barksdale was well-suited to police work, but is less suited to be casino security. No doubt, John Zappas has a great deal more experience in the casino security business.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

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