By Eileen Ambrose, The Baltimore Sun
6:25 PM EST, January 7, 2013
Maryland's three casinos generated $45.2 million in revenue in December, with most of that from the state's largest and newest casino, Maryland Live — and at the expense of the state's oldest.
Last month, Maryland Live took in $35.9 million, or a daily average of $244.15 per machine, according to figures released Monday by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. The Arundel Mills casino operates 4,750 slot machines and electronic table games.
The Arundel Mills casino opened in June. For the abbreviated year, its revenues reached nearly $229.3 million.
"Maryland Live is very well-positioned right now to build a loyal customer base in Maryland," said James Karmel, a gambling analyst and professor of history at Harford Community College.
Not only has Maryland Live drawn customers away from Hollywood Casino Perryville, but it won't have any major competition until casinos open in mid-2014 in Baltimore and 2016 in Prince George's County, Karmel said. Maryland Live is in the process of adding gambling table games, which Karmel said could contribute another 10 percent to 20 percent to the casino's revenue.
Maryland Live's opening clearly took a bite out of Hollywood's business. For all of last year, Hollywood generated $98.6 million, compared with about $110.8 million for 2011.
But Hollywood Casino Perryville said its revenue numbers appear to be stabilizing after months of declines. Revenue at the Cecil County casino, which has 1,500 machines, totaled $5.96 million last month, or an average of $128.09 per machine daily. That's down $3.5 million, or 37 percent, from December 2011.
Revenue at Hollywood, which opened in September 2010, peaked in March 2012 when it brought in $12.3 million, but has receded sharply. Last summer, Hollywood even volunteered to return about one-third of its slot machines to the state, pointing to a decline in revenue.
But Bill Hayles, vice president and general manager of Hollywood, said Monday that he was encouraged by the December take, which was higher than in November and October.
"We've been tweaking our marketing programs, and some people over the holiday season may have stayed closer to home," Hayles said.
He also credits a restaurant that opened at the casino in August, added entertainment and the casino's big-screen TVs, which draw football fans in on weekends.
Maryland's third venue, the Casino at Ocean Downs, continues to see its revenue grow. Last month, the facility near Ocean City took in about $3.34 million, an increase of $328,269 from the previous December. The Worcester County casino's 800 machines generated an average of $134.51 per machine each day.
Ocean Downs revenue for 2012 totaled $49.9 million, up from $44.9 million the year before.
"Ocean Downs remains well-positioned to dominate the beach region," said Karmel, noting that its nearest competitor is at least an hour away.
In the November election, Maryland voters approved an expansion of gambling, including the addition of table games. Maryland Live has said it plans to install 150 table games. Hollywood is removing about 340 machines to make room for 20 tables, including eight for poker, Hayles said.
Doug Eppler, a spokesman for Ocean Downs, said the casino is considering table games but has not reached a decision.
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