After months of setting records, Maryland casinos generated $84.9 million in revenue in January, according to state gambling regulators, marking the second straight month the figure has declined.
After Horseshoe Casino Baltimore opened in August, the state's five casinos had pushed total revenue upward, topping out at a record $90.2 million in November. Then in December, combined revenue dropped to $85.6 million.
The past two months' figures raise the question of whether the market has been pushed to its limits.
"At some point the market reaches capacity," said James Karmel, a casino analyst and history professor at Harford Community College. "It's possible that it has stabilized, that people have figured out their preferences and are sticking with them."
The state's largest casino, Maryland Live, reported January revenue of $49.4 million, down 8 percent from January 2014, according to figures released Thursday by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.
Horseshoe generated $23.1 million last month, up slightly from $22.9 million in December.
While experts say year-over-year comparisons are the most illuminating because they account for seasonal fluctuations, Horseshoe wasn't open last January, so no such comparison can be made.
Maryland Live, next to Arundel Mills mall in Hanover, operates 4,212 slot machines and 189 table games. Horseshoe, on Russell Street near M&T Bank Stadium, has 2,500 slot machines and 147 table games.
Minus Horseshoe, January revenue from Maryland casinos decreased 6.7 percent from January 2014. Including Horseshoe, the overall revenue was up 28.3 percent over the same period.
A new casino — MGM — is scheduled to open in 2016 at National Harbor in Prince George's County.
It remains to be seen whether MGM will expand the market or whether it will mostly pull customers away from existing casinos.
A December 2013 study by state consultant Will Cummings predicted that Maryland Live would be affected most by the new casino outside of Washington.
"The most severe impacts will be felt at Maryland Live because it lies closest to Prince George's County and already attracts significant business from the new casino's prime feeder markets in Virginia," the study concluded. "Impacts on Rocky Gap, Ocean Downs and the new Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore are projected to be modest."
Consultants had previously predicted that Maryland Live could see a 20 percent drop in revenue once Horseshoe began operating, But the effect of Horseshoe has been far more modest.
The state approved requests last week by Horseshoe and Maryland Live to eliminate 300 slot machines each and add more table games. Both casinos said the move would improve their bottom lines and add jobs.
Maryland's other casinos had mixed results in January.
At Hollywood Casino Perryville, monthly revenue fell $306,286, or 4.9 percent, from January 2014 to $6 million.
Casino at Ocean Downs' revenue increased by $209,414, or 6.6 percent, to $3.38 million from a year earlier.
Rocky Gap Casino Resort's revenue decreased by $55,436, or 1.8 percent, to $2.97 million.