The state's new gaming chief predicted at least several more years of significant casino revenue growth on Monday, the same day the state announced that it took in more than $1 billion in revenue from the lottery and casino gambling.

"I think you're going to see big growth numbers on the casino side for at least a couple or three years," said Gordon Medenica, director of the state Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, which released a report summarizing the fiscal year results.

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Medenica, who started in the job in June, cited the MGM National Harbor casino and resort scheduled to open in the second half of 2016 as the primary driver of that growth.

"If MGM opens in the fall of 2016, give them a year just to get mature as a business and create a player base and regular customers and all of the things that it takes just to ramp up as a business," Medenica said in an interview. "That takes you to calendar '17. I think you could still see growth into '18."

The fiscal year ending June 30 was the first that Maryland's gaming and lottery revenue topped $1 billion.

"Surpassing the $1 billion mark in total contributions to the state is a significant milestone for Maryland Lottery and Gaming," Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement. "The lottery continues to be a revenue generator for the state, and the presence of the casinos has created thousands of jobs, boosted local economies and added significant new funding for education."

Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, the state's fifth casino, opened in August 2014 and reported revenue of $236 million.

"It's happening all over," Richard McGowan, a casino expert at Boston College's Carroll School of Management, said of the casino explosion. "Nationwide, the total amount contributed to states by gambling was about $25 billion for 2013. Tobacco is a close second, like $2 billion less, and alcohol is considerably less."

But McGowan cautioned that gambling "is not an endless source of revenue. The market is only so big and that's it. I would say in two or three years Maryland will stabilize. That will be the zenith of how much gambling revenue they're going to get."

The state received $525 million from the lottery in the latest fiscal year, and $487 million from casinos. The total of more than $1 billion was 19.1 percent higher than in the previous year. Those combined state revenues are only topped by income, sales and corporate taxes.

While casino revenue has been growing, the lottery results were mixed.

Overall, the lottery recorded sales of $1.76 billion, a 2.2 percent increase over the 2014 fiscal year. Prizes paid totaled $1.05 billion.

The lottery sales gain was fueled by the surging popularity of instant tickets, the sales of which topped $546 million, up nearly 14 percent to a new high.

However, sales of most other games in Maryland — including Powerball and Mega Millions, which rely on escalating jackpots to entice players — have slipped. Sales of Racetrax, a computer-animated game, and Keno also are down in year-over-year comparisons — a result experts attribute to competition from the relatively new casinos.

Medenica said changes are in store to significantly increase the sales share of instant games, currently about 30 percent of lottery sales — less than in many other states.

"I mean, the goal is to get it up over 50 percent," Medenica said. "But I haven't put a timetable on it. We're running at a double-digit growth rate. And I think, already, the early results six weeks into this [2016] fiscal year are pretty similar in that kind of double-digit growth."

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The state launches an average of four new scratch-offs a month. There are about 60 such games in circulation at any given time with names like "Blingo Bingo," "Twisted Treasures" and "Mustache Cash."

But Medenica said instant ticket players shouldn't expect more games.

"It's actually a little counter-intuitive," he said. "The most successful states, like Massachusetts, have actually fewer launches and fewer games. It may be that we'll actually launch fewer games but promote the ones we have better."

He said Maryland is looking to add a lottery drawing game "around the first of the year" called Cash4Life. The multi-state game's top prize is $1,000 a day for life.

Meanwhile, last year's casino revenue growth was driven by Horseshoe's opening.

Horseshoe has not cut into the market share of Maryland Live, the Anne Arundel County casino that opened in 2012, nearly as much as state consultants predicted. The state's largest casino, Maryland Live generated $626.2 million in revenue, more than double that of Horseshoe.

The state's first, Hollywood Casino Perryville, opened in 2010. MGM will be Maryland's sixth casino.

Medenica, the former New York State Lottery chief, said MGM possesses an important geographic asset. It is being built directly across the Potomac River from Northern Virginia.

"I think the potential with MGM is going to be Virginia," Medenica said. "Maryland geographically is lucky because we're absolutely surrounded by heavily saturated casino states except to the south. So if Virginia continues to decide not to allow casinos, I think that'll be to our advantage."

Casinos kept 51.9 percent of overall gambling revenue, with the rest going to state programs. The largest share, 37.3 percent, went to the Maryland Education Trust Fund. The horse racing industry, local government programs and small minority-owned and women-owned businesses also received shares.

Medenica was appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan to replace Stephen Martino, an appointee of the previous governor, Martin O'Malley. Martino resigned in March to join the law firm of Duane Morris as a partner in its Baltimore office.

"The coming year will bring many new opportunities," Medenica said, "from the expansion of traditional lottery games to the opening of the state's sixth casino."

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State revenue from lottery sales and casino gambling

Lottery

FY2015 — $525 million

FY2014 — $521 million

FY2013 — $545 million

FY2012 — $556 million

Casino

FY2015 — $487 million

FY2014 — $420 million

FY2013 — $377 million

FY2012 — $129 million

Source: Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency

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