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State's largest casino takes revenue hit as Horseshoe arrives

The Baltimore Sun

The Horseshoe Casino Baltimore took a bite out of Maryland Live's revenue in September, its first full month of operation, even as it pushed the state's take to yet another record.

Overall revenues from the state's five casinos reached $82.4 million, topping last month's record of $80.6 million, according to figures released by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.

The $45.5 million generated by Maryland Live, which is about 13 miles from Horseshoe, was 9.8 percent less than in the same month a year earlier and ended a period of steady gains since the casino, the state's largest, opened in June 2012. Maryland Live, which has become one of the East Coast's largest casinos, reported $57.3 million in revenue in August of this year.

Horseshoe, which opened on Aug. 26, had revenue of $22.3 million in September. Horseshoe produced $5.7 million in its first six days of operation in August.

Chad Barnhill, Horseshoe's general manager, said in a prepared statement that the casino "not only posted strong first-month casino figures but also exceeded revenue expectations in our dining and entertainment venues."

Analysts have long predicted that Maryland Live, adjacent to Arundel Mills mall, would see reductions in its slots and table games output once Horseshoe began operating.

A November 2013 study by Cummings Associates of Arlington, Mass., projected that the Horseshoe's arrival could mean a 16 percent decline in Maryland Live's slots revenue and a 25 percent drop in revenue from table games.

Rob Norton, Maryland Live president and general manager, told a Sept. 25 meeting of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission that the reduction was modest and "far better than what most of the state's analysts projected."

Since the market is finite, Maryland will be expected to eventually hit a plateau in overall casino revenues, said David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

"It does seem like the new casino is expanding the market if overall revenues are up," Schwartz said Monday. "But you don't want to make a trend from one month."

While the state did garner record revenue from its five casinos in September, the new record is only $4.6 million more than the $77.8 million generated by four casinos in July before Horseshoe opened.

Excluding Horseshoe's September figures, revenues at the other casinos decreased 8.1 percent compared with September 2013.

At Hollywood Casino Perryville, monthly revenue fell to $5.9 million, down $708,433, or 10.7 percent, from a year earlier. Casino at Ocean Downs' revenue decreased 2.8 percent to $4.9 million.

Only Rocky Gap Casino Resort saw revenue increase last month, up 16.2 percent to $3.6 million.

Horseshoe and Maryland Live began a spirited competition even before Horseshoe opened. Each casino dispatched mobile billboards to promote itself near the other's building.

Located near M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards, Horseshoe benefited in September from Ravens games, a college football game and Orioles contests.

Horseshoe has seen a steady of stream of fans walking past and was making "a lot of plans to make sure we get those people through the doors as well," Barnhill said at the commission meeting.

Horseshoe reported drawing more than 50,000 customers over the three-day Labor Day weekend — its first weekend in business. It operates 2,500 slots and 122 table games.

Maryland Live has 4,222 slot machines and 189 table games, according to the state.

MGM Resorts' $925 million casino and resort at National Harbor — about 44 miles from Baltimore — is expected to open in 2016.

jebarker@baltsun.com

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How the casinos stacked up in September

Maryland Live, $45.5 million, -9.8 percent

Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, $23.3 million, n.a.

Hollywood Casino Perryville, $5.9 million, -10.7 percent

Casino at Ocean Downs, $4.9 million, -2.8 percent

Rocky Gap Casino Resort, $3.6 million, +16.2 percent

Source: Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency

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