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Drop in slots revenue doesn’t worry state lottery agency

State slots revenue fell by nearly $2 million from March to April, the first month-to-month decrease in revenue from Maryland casinos since October 2011, but the Maryland State Lottery Agency is not concerned.

Maryland’s two casinos brought in $14.5 million in April, $1.8 million less than in March, but a increase of $900,000 over April 2011.

That’s because despite bringing in $14.5 million in April — $1.8 million less than March’s $16.3 million total — combined revenue for facilities in Perryville and Berlin increased from $13.6 million in April 2011.

“I think the trends are in the right direction. We’re not going to live and die by any monthly numbers,” said Stephen L. Martino, director of the lottery agency. “The facilities are still generating considerable revenue. We’re just glad that things are going well.”

Hollywood Casino Perryville accounted for $10.7 million of last month’s total — a 6.5 percent increase from April 2011 — and the Casino at Ocean Downs in Worcester County generated $3.8 million, a 9.2 percent increase from last year’s April total.

Martino said much of the drop in month-to-month revenues could be attributed to March having five Fridays and Saturdays, weekend days where the casinos are open later and generally have greater attendance. April had four Fridays and Saturdays.

“We’re still trying to develop trends here in Maryland,” Martino said. “If you take away 20 percent of the comparative business, it’s obviously going to have an effect. … So far, every month for the state, we’ve been up year-over-year.”

But the year-over-year revenue numbers are not necessarily the best judge of success either, Martino said. There are too many variables to consider, like weather patterns and the opening of new facilities.

“There’s always going to be aberrations. Those numbers are not foolproof,” Martino said. “If there’s any kind of cold weather [next year], we’re going to be going against the [2011 to 2012] winter that was so mild. There was nothing to discourage people from going out and traveling [this year].”

Year-to-year numbers are likely to continue to rise for the foreseeable future in part because new casinos are set to open in the state over the next several years, Martino said.

The state’s third casino, Maryland Live! at the Arundel Mills mall, is slated to open on June 6. A facility at Rocky Gap State Park in Allegany County, approved by the state Video Lottery Terminal Location Commission, faces final approval by the Board of Public Works in June.

A fifth site, in downtown Baltimore, could be approved by the slots commission as early as June. The lottery agency has not yet received the results of a background investigation into the license’s sole bidder, CBAC Gaming LLC, a group led by Caesars Entertainment Corp.

Martino said the firm conducting the background check, New Jersey-based Spectrum Gaming Group, was on track to complete its check by the end of this month and should forward its findings to the agency in time for it to present those findings to the slots commission in June.

The casinos have generated more than $139 million in the current fiscal year, which began July 1. A little less than half of that total, $67.5 million, has gone to the Education Trust Fund, which uses the money for K-12 and higher education construction funding.

The casinos have kept $45.9 million, one-third of generated revenues.