OCEAN CITY — The December revenue figures for Maryland’s three operating casinos were released this week, while resort business leaders discussed what the next evolution might bring on the eve of another General Assembly session.
The state’s three casinos generated just over $45 million in revenue in December, driven largely by Maryland Live!, the juggernaut in Anne Arundel County that opened last summer. Maryland Live! generated nearly $36 million of the state’s $45 million during December including a daily average of $244 for each of its 4,750 machines.
Closer to home, the Casino at Ocean Downs continued to make modest gains, generating around $3.3 million in December. The $3.3 million earned at the Berlin casino in December represents an increase of roughly 11 percent over the same month in 2011. The Casino at Ocean Downs averaged just over $134 per machine per day in December for its 800 terminals.
Meanwhile, the Hollywood Casino Perryville in Cecil County continued its dramatic slide since Maryland Live! opened. The Cecil County casino generated $5.9 million in December, representing a decline of $3.5 million, or around 37 percent, from December 2011.
On Wednesday, Maryland Hotel and Lodging Association President David Reed addressed the Ocean City Economic Development Committee (EDC) on a wide variety of topics in advance of the opening of the 2013 General Assembly session just hours later. In November, Maryland voters approved an expansion to table games, extended hours for the state’s casinos and a sixth casino in Prince George’s County among other things.
“We’re already seeing the expansion to 24-hour-a-day casino gambling,” he said. “Maryland Live! is open 24 hours a day now and Ocean Downs is open from 8 a.m. on Friday to 3 a.m. on Sunday. The extended hours are already achieving exactly what the legislature hoped it would.”
Reed said the December numbers showed Maryland Live! continued to be the driving force among the three operating casinos and Ocean Downs continued to improve. He also pointed out the Hollywood Casino in Perryville is taking its lumps from Maryland Live!.
“They’re doing pretty well at Ocean Downs,” he said. “They’re really holding their own. Perryville has taken a real hit from Maryland Live!, and ironically, the Maryland Live! people opposed the sixth casino in Prince George’s for the same reason.”
Reed urged Ocean City business leaders to keep a close eye on the impacts of expanded gaming in the state.
“Last year during the special session, there were amendments included that would have added more entertainment at Ocean Downs, something I think you all were very concerned with,” he said. “[Senator] Jim Mathias and your mayor met with Senate President Mike Miller and a lot of that came out.”
Worcester County Economic Development Director Bill Badger said most people focus on the revenue generated by the state’s three operating casinos, but fail to pay attention to a seldom reference line item on the report.
“The bottom line is, there’s a pool of money for small minority or women-owned businesses and that pot of money is up to about $7 million and continues to grow,” he said. “Worcester County is trying to get some of that back. It would be nice to get some of that money back working in our county considering we’re one of three destinations generating it.”
Clarion Resort Hotel owner and former EDC chairman Dr. Lenny Berger agreed Ocean City should keep a close eye on the changes in gaming.
“Expanded gambling has already chipped away at discretionary spending,” he said. “Maybe we need to look at ways of getting some of that back.”