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Perryville casino revenue dips again in December

Hollywood Casino Perryville continued to lag state revenue expectations in December, generating $6.5 million during its third full month of operation.

Each of the casino’s 1,500 slot machines averaged just $140.58 in revenue, well below the $210 the state expected from the casino Cecil County, according to figures released Wednesday by the Maryland Lottery Agency.

“For the vast majority of casino players, they’re spending discretionary money,” said James Karmel, a gaming consultant and analyst, and professor at Harford Community College. “In December in particular, that discretionary money is being put toward the holidays, especially in an economy like this.”

Karmel said the drop-off after the excitement of the casino’s opening on Sept. 27 and climbing gas prices could be keeping customers away.

Casino executives and state gaming officials also blamed the holiday season for the slack returns.

“There’s an old casino saying,” said Perryville General Manager Himbert Sinopoli, “You can’t beat Santa Claus. Consumers only have so much disposable income.”

Sinopoli said the casino performed well in the final week of December and through the New Year holiday. He said he expects the revenue numbers to rebound as the casino settles into the market.

Lottery Director Stephen Martino, the state’s top gaming regulator, said the casino’s December performance does not worry him.

“We’re going to be interested to see where things shake out in January and February, to see if this is developing into a trend or if it’s an industry recognized aberration.”

Karmel said casino officials would be looking at a number of options to make the gaming operation, including adjusting the mix of slot machines to better appeal to the customer base.

The largest portion of the December revenue, $3.17 million, will go to the state’s education coffers. The casino kept one-third, or $2.16 million.

Perryville, owned by Penn National Gaming Inc., reported $11.4 million in revenue in October, exceeding state projections. In November, the total dropped to $7.6 million, or $168 per machine per day.

For January, the state will be tallying up two sets of revenue figures. The second casino in Maryland opened Tuesday in Worcester County. The trackside slots parlor at Ocean Downs, the harness track, has 750 terminals.

A third gaming hall — a temporary version of Maryland Live! Casino — is scheduled to open next to the Arundel Mills shopping mall at the end of this year, with the full version to open at the end of 2012.

The state is still seeking bidders for the slots licenses in Allegany County and Baltimore city.

Click here to see our slots interactive on the casino’s revenue over the past three months.