The state’s first casino reported it made $7.7 million in January, its highest revenue since October, according to figures released Monday by the Maryland Lottery Agency. That number is $1.1 million higher than the previous month, which was the casino’s slowest month to date.
“We’re real excited the holidays are over,” said Marc DeLeo, the casino’s director of marketing. DeLeo said a surge in business around New Year’s Eve helped kick off January with strong numbers, and a new rule allowing the casino to give customers complimentary food and beverage helped in the latter half of the month.
The Cecil County casino, which opened Sept. 27, brought in $11.3 million in October, its first full month of operations. But its revenue dropped significantly in November and December, to as low as $6.5 million.
Part of the reason may also be that the new appeal of the casino had worn off during those months, which is typical for any startup casino, said Jeff Hooke, managing director of Hooke Associates LLC, a business valuation firm in Bethesda.
“There’s going to be the usual startup glitches, and it takes a while for advertising to sink in with the public,” Hooke said. “Word of mouth really needs to get around first, since they’re competing with Delaware, and it always takes a while.”
Officials from Perryville said they are optimistic that larger marketing efforts in February will help keep revenue numbers up, even though there are fewer days in the month. Some of those efforts include giving away LCD televisions and Carnival cruises, and doubling the amount of complimentary food on Wednesdays in February.
Lottery Director Stephen Martino, the state’s top gaming regulator, said the casino’s January performance was positive, and that he had expected November and December to be tougher months for the casino.
“There was a lack of discretionary spending available for customers since they were putting their money off to buying presents during the holidays,” Martino said. “We told everyone we thought November and December were going to be difficult times for the casino.”
Hollywood Casino Perryville, owned by Penn National Gaming Inc., has brought in $35.3 million for its fiscal year to date.
January was also the first month that Casino at Ocean Downs reported revenue, and the Worcester County facility brought in $3 million after opening on Jan. 4.
The Perryville casino’s 1,500 slot machines averaged $165.96 per day, 18 percent higher than December’s $140.58 per day. The Casino at Ocean Downs, which has 750 machines, averaged $144.54 per machine per day.
Martino said he wasn’t concerned about the softer opening for the Ocean Downs location because it was smaller and more likely to get a seasonal rush.
“Right now there’s not a lot of ancillary activity going on for that area,” he said. “For it being January, I feel good about it, and I think we’re going to see some very positive numbers heading into the late spring and summer.”
Between both of the casinos, the state has received $38.3 million so far.
The largest portion of the January revenue, $5.2 million, will go to the state’s education fund. The casinos keep one-third of the revenue.
Maryland’s third gaming facility, Maryland Live! Casino, broke ground Jan. 27 for its temporary facility and is scheduled to open next to the Arundel Mills mall at the end of this year. The permanent casino is to open at the end of 2012.