BERLIN- While it should come as no surprise, given the 300,000-plus visitors to the resort area for much of the month, the July numbers for the Casino at Ocean Downs spiked up considerably after months of modest incremental gains.
The Casino at Ocean Downs grossed just over $5.3 million in July, up substantially from the $3.8 million reported for June, representing the first real peak in what had been a slow, steady ascent since the facility opened in January. Each month since the casino opened on Route 589 just south of Ocean Pines, the revenue increased gradually from $3 million in January to $3.1 million in February to $3.2 million in March and from $3.5 million in April to $3.7 million in May to $3.8 million in June.
Following the same logic, the figure appeared to be on track to increase to about $4 million in July, but the big summer crowds in nearby Ocean City, coupled with a hot and dry summer for the most part and several major special events in the resort area drove the figures up considerably. While generally pleased with the spike, state lottery officials were not taken aback by the sudden increase.
“While we wouldn’t get in the business of predicting outcomes, I can say we weren’t surprised to see the numbers for Ocean Downs spike up the way they did in July,” said Maryland Lottery Director Steve Martino this week. “We knew going in the summer months would be the peak season at Ocean Downs because we anticipated capturing some of the summer tourist trade. The casino is an ancillary attraction to everything else that goes on in Ocean City in the summer and the numbers for July bear that out.”
A look at the average daily gross per machine at Ocean Downs in July illustrates the increased level of play at the casino. For the month of July, the average daily gross per machine came in at $215.64, up from $168.35 in June and $158.61 in May, despite the addition of 50 new machines in the month. Ocean Downs opened with 750 machines, but increased the number to 800 last month.
“The Casino at Ocean Downs opened in January and did very well from the outset considering there is just not a whole lot going on in the area in January, February, March and into April,” he said. “We saw incremental increases during those months, but July was the first month we saw a considerable spike.”
Martino said Ocean Downs to date is meeting or exceeding early expectations in terms of gross revenue and the contributions to the various beneficiaries. The year-to-date gross revenue now tops $25 million with the contribution to the Education Trust Fund at $12.5 million and the Local Impact Grants total now around $1.4 million.
“I think Ocean Downs is meeting every obligation spelled out in the legislation,” he said. “It’s creating revenue for the state, it’s creating revenue for the area in terms of local impact grants and it’s creating revenue for the Education Trust Fund. It’s also creating jobs at a time when the state needs all the new jobs it can get. I really believe Ocean Downs is doing everything the governor, the legislature and the people of Maryland thought it would do.”
Martino said time will tell if revenues continue to spike upward. It’s a near certainty the bottom line will trend back down as summer turns into fall and fall turns into winter, but the facility’s performance should be judged on a larger sample, according to Martino.
“I think it’s important to point out for both casinos and eventually the five casinos in Maryland it will take a year’s worth of numbers to identify any real trends,” he said. “I do think it’s safe to say August is going to be better than July, but there were also five weekends in July, so we’re not sure how that will play out.”