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Maryland casino revenue tops $100 million for first time in April

The Roulette wheel spins at the Maryland Live casino at Arundel Mills in Hanover
The Roulette wheel spins at the Maryland Live casino at Arundel Mills in Hanover (By Matthew Cole / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Soaring monthly revenue at Maryland's casinos topped $100 million for the first time in April, the Lottery and Gaming Control Agency said Thursday.

The five casinos combined to reach $103.8 million, surpassing the previous monthly record of $98.9 million set in July 2015.

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It was the fifth straight month that combined casino revenues had increased compared with a year earlier.

Analysts have attributed the trend to favorable economic conditions in the region and casino marketing programs.

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"It's a healthy market," said Alan Woinski, president of Gaming USA Corp., which publishes industry newsletters. "The economy is better, there is job growth and there are lower gas prices. More people will jump in the car and go places."

The first Maryland casino opened in 2010, and the casinos have had time to mold their offerings to suit the market.

"Regional gaming revenue has been up for six months across the country, and Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania have been three of the strongest markets," Woinski said. "Those are also the newest markets. The newest markets take a little longer to ramp up."

The largest casinos — Maryland Live and Horseshoe Casino Baltimore — have eliminated some slot machines and added more profitable table games.

"This is another great milestone for Maryland's casinos," Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director Gordon Medenica said in a written statement as the latest figures were released. "We're looking forward to continued growth of the state's casino industry, and of course, that means more funding for important state programs."

A portion of casino revenues support the Maryland Education Trust Fund, minority-owned and women-owned businesses, local impact grants and the state's horse racing industry.

The last time the casinos' collective revenue was down was in November, when it dropped about half of 1 percent.

Horseshoe generated $30.2 million from slot machines and table games in April — a 31.9 percent increase over April 2015 and its best monthly financial performance since it opened in August 2014.

"Our April revenues represent a high point in what has been an ongoing trend of strong year-over-year growth resulting from innovative marketing and promotions initiatives as well as a comprehensive mix of best-in-class entertainment offerings," said Erin Chamberlin, the casino's senior vice president and general manager, in a prepared statement.

Horseshoe's monthly revenues had dipped below $24 million in April, May and June of last year. The April 2015 riots that followed Freddie Gray's death from injuries sustained in police custody hurt the casino's earnings, just as they affected attendance at other city attractions.

The revenues of Maryland Live, the state's largest casino, accounted for more than 55 percent of the state total. The casino reported $57.7 million last month, a 13.4 percent increase compared to April 2015. It also had the state's highest gross gambling revenue per unit per day — what the casino keeps after players collect their winnings.

Revenue increased 2 percent, to $7 million, at the Hollywood Casino Perryville in Cecil County; increased by 6.1 percent, to $4.1 million, at the Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Allegany County; and jumped 8.9 percent, to $4.6 million, at the slots-only Casino at Ocean Downs in Worcester County.

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Overall, April casino revenue increased 16.8 percent from the combined figures a year earlier.

The casinos soon will face new competition from MGM National Harbor in Prince George's County, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

MGM announced recently that it has partnered with Prince George's Community College on a dealer school training program beginning May 16. The casino is offering nearly 1,000 jobs in its table games areas.

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