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Horseshoe celebrates first anniversary

Horseshoe Casino Baltimore turns 1-year-old today

Horseshoe Casino Baltimore is marking its first anniversary with a $111,111 giveaway. The Caesars property said it has attracted more than 5 million guests and created 1,815 jobs, most of them held by city residents.

The $442 million casino opened on Aug. 26, 2014, with Las Vegas-style showgirls and a surprise appearance by pop star Iggy Azalea.

The casino said it recently commissioned an economic impact study by the Sage Policy Group indicating that it generated nearly $384 million in commerce in Baltimore in its first 11-plus months.

Yet its first-year results have been mixed.

Horseshoe's cumulative revenues so far are tens of millions of dollars short of projections. While it was expected to take a big bite out of the revenue for Maryland Live, the Anne Arundel County casino that opened in 2012, it has only made a small dent. The state's largest casino, Maryland Live generated $626.2 million in revenue in the last fiscal year, more than double that of Horseshoe, which opened two months into the fiscal year.

Analysts say Horseshoe was hurt by the city unrest in April, which also affected attendance at other city attractions, and by roadwork on Interstate 95 and Interstate 295 during the casino's opening weeks.

Horseshoe, which is open 24-7 even on holidays, was forced to close for the first time when Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake ordered a curfew to keep residents off the streets. The casino said it had been on track for its best month in April, but "the need to close for several consecutive nights during peak hours had a significant impact on our monthly revenues."

In January, the division of Caesars Entertainment Corp. that operates the casino filed for bankruptcy protection. Horseshoe officials said the move hasn't affected the casino's performance.

The casino said in a news release this week that it has paid more than $79 million in payroll and benefits since 2013 and — as of next month, will have paid more than $24 million in city taxes, fees and local impact grants.

Rawlings-Blake hailed the jobs and the new tourist attraction the casino created for the city in a statement.

"I fully expect the Horseshoe to become the anchor of a major redevelopment effort that will transform this area, connecting the major tourism venues of the casino, convention center, sports stadiums and Inner Harbor," she said.

To mark its anniversary, Horseshoe said it is giving away $111,111 in cash and free slot play in a drawing Saturday.

"We're thrilled to be celebrating a great first year in Baltimore," Horseshoe general manager Chad Barnhill said.

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