Atlantic City, rocked by the 2014 closure of four casinos, is teetering on the brink of a financial crisis. Nevada casino revenue has been flat for months.

But Maryland's casino market, like a progressive jackpot, just keeps growing. The five casinos combined to generate record revenues for the second straight month in May, the Lottery and Gaming Control Agency reported Monday.


Combined revenues in Maryland reached $104.4 million in May. It was the sixth straight month that they increased compared to the previous year.

The last time the casinos' collective revenue was down was in November, when it dropped about 0.5 percent.

"Maryland's casino business is on a roll," lottery director Gordon Medenica said.

Construction continues on a sixth Maryland casino, the MGM National Harbor resort in Prince George's County, scheduled to open by the end of the year.

And Maryland Live is adding a hotel and conference center in Anne Arundel County.

Analysts have attributed the upward trend to favorable economic conditions in the region and increasingly effective marketing.

The first Maryland casino opened in 2010. The operations, while still a novelty to many, have had time to mold their offerings — tinkering with the mix of table games to slots — to suit the market.

"Ohio and Maryland are both doing fantastic," said Alan Woinski, president of Gaming USA Corp., which publishes industry newsletters. "Pennsylvania has been doing very well. You look at three of the newer markets doing the best, and that's not a surprising statistic."

More broadly, the trend shows how regional casinos have taken hold, becoming habits for thousands of players.

"Mid-Atlantic casino players would much prefer to stay closer to home and play in the suburbs of Baltimore or Philadelphia or, soon, Washington," said James Karmel, a casino analyst and history professor at Harford Community College. "Regional casino gambling is edging out destination gambling. People go to Las Vegas for all sorts of reasons, but on the East Coast it's really the primacy of the gambling experience."

Maryland's largest casinos — Maryland Live and Horseshoe Casino Baltimore — received state approval in 2015 to eliminate 300 slot machines each and add more profitable table games.

"We had back then realized we had underutilization of our slot machines, and we were at capacity on our table games," said Rob Norton, president of Maryland Live. "So by making the correction to match our supply to our demand, I fully anticipated that we would see an increase in revenue and an increase of taxable revenue to the state. Our slot revenue and our table revenue are up."

Under state regulations, casino operators keep 80 percent of the proceeds from table games and about 33 percent from slot machines. The rest goes to the state to help fund education, subsidies for the horse industry and other programs.

Maryland Live now has 3,923 slot machines and 206 table games. Horseshoe has 2,202 slot machines and 178 table games.


Maryland casino revenue is up 10.2 percent in the first four months of the year compared with the same period a year earlier.

That's a larger increase than in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio — neighboring states that also recorded healthy gains, according to figures compiled by the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Nevada casinos' revenue was down 0.1 percent in the same period.

Maryland Live and Horseshoe Casino Baltimore both had big months in May.

Horseshoe generated $28.7 million from slot machines and table games — a 31.3 percent increase over May 2015 and its second-best monthly financial performance since it opened in August 2014.

Horseshoe's monthly revenues dipped below $24 million in April, May and June of 2015. The riots of April 2015 riots hurt the casino's earnings, just as they affected attendance at other city attractions.

"Certainly it affected us just like other downtown destinations," said Noah Hirsch, Horseshoe's vice president of marketing. Because the unrest did not extend into the casino area, Hirsch said patrons' safety concerns amounted to "perception and not reality."

In the past 15 months, Hirsch said, Horseshoe has benefited from staging three World Series of Poker circuit events and opening an off-track-betting area.

Horseshoe is able to use the World Series brand because it is owned by a division of Caesars, which acquired the series in 2004.

Maryland Live reported $59 million in revenue last month, a 1.8 percent increase compared to May 2015. It was the casino's third-best month since it opened in 2012.

Norton said the casino has made a "strategic shift to be more spontaneous" and to emphasize its local ownership.

It has sought to distinguish itself with progressive jackpots and promotions such as giving away a licensed replica of the Batmobile from the 1960s-era "Batman" television show and a replica of the DeLorean time machine from the "Back to the Future" movies.

It brought in astronaut Buzz Aldrin this year for a series of promotions, including the offer of a commercial "trip to space," subject to government approval.

Casino owner David Cordish has occasionally appeared on the casino floor and handed out $100 bills to guests.

"We started focusing our marketing efforts on [those sorts of promotions] about a year ago," Norton said. "It takes some time to build that momentum. I think it's definitely gaining ground."

Two of Maryland's other three casinos also reported revenue gains in May.

Revenue was up 4.1 percent, to $4.4 million, at the Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Allegany County, and increased 3.2 percent, to $5.1 million, at the slots-only Casino at Ocean Downs in Worcester County. Revenue dropped 3.1 percent, to $6.8 million, at the Hollywood Casino Perryville in Cecil County.