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Hogan names Maryland lottery and gaming director

Gordon Medenica has been named to head the state Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.
Gordon Medenica has been named to head the state Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.

Gov. Larry Hogan named former New York State Lottery chief Gordon Medenica to head the Maryland agency overseeing the state's casinos and lottery system.

Medenica, whose appointment as director of the state Lottery and Gaming Control Agency requires state Senate confirmation, will succeed Stephen Martino, the previous director, who resigned in March. In the interim, the agency has been led by Gina M. Smith.

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Medenica takes over an agency that is managing the rapid expansion of casino gambling in the state, including the planned opening of a sixth casino, MGM National Harbor, scheduled for the second half of 2016. He'll also be responsible for sustaining interest in the state's lottery games, which have suffered some lost sales since the casinos opened.

His appointment came as revenue at the state's largest casinos declined in April.

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Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, which opened last August, saw revenue fall about 7.2 percent — from $24.7 million in March to $22.9 million in April, according to figures released Tuesday. Normally open 24 hours a day, the casino closed at 9 p.m. during the last three days of April and the first two days of May to comply with a citywide curfew imposed after the rioting in Baltimore on April 27.

Horseshoe said it had been on pace for its best month until the curfew. It has since reopened overnight, now that the curfew has been lifted by city authorities.

"April was an unprecedented month for Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, as it was for many businesses located in the city," the casino said in a prepared statement. "While the casino was on pace for its best month to date, the need to close for several consecutive nights during peak hours had a significant impact on our monthly revenues."

Maryland Live, the state's largest casino, generated $50.9 million during April, down 9.8 percent from a year earlier and 1.9 percent from the previous month, according to the gaming control agency.

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Overall casino revenue, which reached $91 million in March, slipped to $88.9 million last month despite strong performances by Ocean Downs and Rocky Gap Casino Resort, which posted gains relative to March and to the same period in 2014. Ocean Downs' April revenue of $4.2 million was up 18.4 percent over April 2014. Rocky Gap generated $3.9 million, an 8 percent improvement.

In April 2014, before Horseshoe opened, the state's casinos generated nearly $71.5 million in revenue.

Medenica is expected to start at the agency after the Memorial Day weekend. The director oversees about 325 employees at the agency with an operating budget of more than $140 million. The position pays about $173,000 a year.

The lottery system brings in more than half a billion dollars a year for the state's general fund, while casinos contributed more than $400 million in the last fiscal year, before Horseshoe opened, to the education trust fund and support for the state's horse racing industry, small businesses and the communities hosting casinos.

"Gordon Medenica will bring a wealth of lottery and business experience to the agency," Hogan said in a statement. "I am confident that he will be committed to maintaining the integrity of the agency, as well as ensuring that the casino and gaming program continues to run efficiently and effectively."

Medenica was named to lead New York State's lottery by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2007 and held the post for five years. He later became a consultant to the lottery and gaming industries. He also is a former New York Times executive and served on the leadership team of a company that owned the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.

He could not be reached for comment.

Under Martino, the agency's prior director, casino gambling rapidly expanded in Maryland, beginning in 2010 with the opening of Hollywood Casino Perryville, followed a year later by the addition of a casino at the Ocean Downs horse racing track on the Eastern Shore. Maryland Live opened in 2013, followed by Rocky Gap and Horseshoe in 2014.

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