Maryland’s first slots parlor got off to a fast and lucrative start, generating more than $2 million in revenue in its first four days of operation, according to figures released Wednesday by the State Lottery Agency.
Hollywood Casino Perryville opened Sept. 27 with little more than 12 hours notice, and despite the last-minute decision to open early, easily outperformed state expectations.
Perryville’s 1,500 slot machines averaged $346 in revenue per day, well above the revenue of $210 the state estimates the casino’s terminals to generate over the long term.
Lines sometimes stretched out the door, and the $97.5 million casino operated at up to 98 percent capacity during those four days of September, General Manager Himbert Sinopoli said.
“We’re obviously very excited about how things started out here,” he said. “We had an overwhelming response from all over the area, not only Maryland, but people coming in from out of state as well.”
The state’s education coffers will see $1 million, or 48.5 percent of the revenue reported Wednesday from the last four days of September. A pair of horse racing funds will receive $200,000, and $114,000 will go to jurisdictions near the Cecil County casino. A state program for small- and minority-owned businesses will receive $31,000.
And the Perryville casino, owned by Penn National Gaming Inc., will keep $685,000, or one-third of the revenue.
Lottery Director Stephen Martino called the four-day figures “impressive,” but not surprising given the buzz that surrounds new casinos.
Both he and Sinopoli said they expect the daily revenue to decline.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that they’re going to go down, that the average even over the month of October will go down,” Martino said. “There was heightened interest over the opening of the casino.”
Sinopoli estimated it would take six to eight weeks for business to stabilize.
One issue for the casino is visibility — the building sits alongside Interstate 95 but is hidden behind a rise and trees and cannot be seen from the highway.
Penn National had proposed a sign that would sit 175 feet above the ground, but was denied by the Town of Perryville.
Sinopoli said the company is working with the state and nearby private property owners — whose land falls outside the town’s jurisdiction — to find a spot for the 31-foot by 58-foot sign.
“You have 82,000 cars a day passing you, you have a stream of revenue passing you, and you want to tap it,” he said.
The casino and state, which has spent $66 million to buy and lease the machines at Perryville, will also be looking at the lineup of slots terminals on the gaming floor in the coming weeks.
The casino offers a wide variety of games, including some that simulate casino-style card games and roulette, in a range of denominations. By state law, all have a “win percentage” of at least 87.5 percent and average 90 percent across the floor.
“We’re very happy with the product itself,” Sinopoli said. “We’ll probably kick up our higher [denominations]. We’ll probably add some machines there.”
The state and Penn National are counting on a fresh and varied mix of games to keep the casino competitive in the northeast corner of the state, close to established casinos in Delaware and Pennsylvania that offer table games in addition to the slots.
But at least for September, Maryland’s slot machines proved more popular. Pennsylvania’s 25,833 slot machines averaged $240 in revenue per day.