Irene Closing Leads To Casino Revenue Decline

BERLIN — Just like most other businesses in the resort area, Hurricane Irene, and perhaps the calendar, conspired to keep the Casino at Ocean Downs’ final numbers for August below the prior month’s earnings for the first time in the brief history of the facility.

The Maryland Video Lottery Commission, which oversees the two existing slots facilities in the state, released the final numbers for August for the Casino at Ocean Downs on Wednesday and, for the first time, the revenue figures declined. Each month since the casino opened, the monthly revenue increased 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.

In July, revenue totals for the Casino at Ocean Downs spiked up considerably to $5.3 million, representing the first real peak in what had been a slow, steady ascent. Following the same logic, the numbers for August figured to at least match the July total if not exceed it, but when the figures were released this week, the end-of-month total came in at $4.6 million.

However, state lottery officials pointed out there was a logical reason for the decline. For example, the August totals were based on just 29 days of operation due to a two-day closure as a result of Hurricane Irene, which essentially cost the facility what would have likely been a big weekend. In addition, there were five weekends in July compared to four in August, which was essentially reduced to three full weekends because of the storm closure.

A look at the average daily gross per machine also reflects the lost weekend in August for Ocean Downs. For the month of July, the average daily gross per machine came in at $215.64, up from the $168.35 reported in June and the $158.61 in May. However, in August, the average daily gross per machine came in at $196.66, which is also a reflection of the storm-shortened month.

Since opening last Jan. 4, the Casino at Ocean Downs has now generated nearly $30 million, while the year-to-date total for the fiscal year that began on July 1 is now just under $10 million. In August, the casino generated $2.2 million for the Education Trust Fund, bringing the fiscal year total to $4.8 million and the calendar year total to $14.7 million. The casino generated nearly $251,000 in local impact grants in August, while the fiscal year total is now $545,000 and the total since the facility opened in January is $1.6 million.