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Casino revenue jumps to another record month

Maryland’s largest casino on Wednesday celebrated the eve of its first birthday by setting a state record for monthly revenue, driving a statewide record $69.2 million generated by Maryland’s four gambling parlors.

The revenue total, released by the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, beat the previous monthly revenue high — set just last month — by more than $10 million. The total increased the state’s tax revenue from slot machines this fiscal year to $511.1 million, exceeding projections set by the Board of Revenue Estimates with a month to spare.

Maryland Live — which opened its first phase on June 6 last year with about 3,200 slot machines — generated $55.1 million last month. The casino pulled in $37.5 million from its 4,319 slot machines, but its revenue growth came from a spike at table games, where gamblers playing blackjack, poker and the like lost more than $17.5 million last month, up from $8.4 million in April.

The casino’s share of the record total was $26.4 million. About $22 million went to the state Education Trust Fund, and the rest was set aside for grants intended for small, women- and minority-owned businesses, horse racing and other accounts.

“It’s really amazing to look back over the past year and realize how far we’ve come in such a short time,” said Robert J. Norton, Maryland Live’s president and general manager. “We are very proud of everything we have accomplished to date, especially with the amount of jobs we have created for the region and the revenue generated for the state education fund.

“It’s very gratifying to receive positive feedback from customers who view us as the premier entertainment destination in the region and see that our revenue figures reflect the passion and hard work of everyone here.”

Lottery Director Steven L. Martino was traveling and not immediately available to comment, a spokeswoman said.

Maryland’s casino revenue was padded by $776,133 generated at Rocky Gap Casino Resort, the once state-owned golf resort and conference center that was sold to Minnetonka, Minn.-based Lakes Entertainment Inc. last summer. The casino opened to the public on May 22 with 554 slot machines and 10 table games.

Hollywood Casino Perryville generated $8.6 million from its slots and table games last month, continuing a slight resurgence facilitated by the start of table game play in early March. But the Penn National Gaming Inc. facility still posted a year-over-year revenue decline of 15 percent, a drop-off that casino management has attributed to the popularity of Maryland Live.

The Casino at Ocean Downs in Berlin generated $4.8 million last month, a 7 percent increase over last May. The casino near Ocean City is the only state gambling parlor that does not yet have table games.

May marked the third straight month Maryland’s casinos set a revenue record. Total money leapt to $58 million in March but ticked up only slightly in April, to $59 million, despite Maryland Live’s unveiling table games that month.

At last month’s meeting of the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission, casino executives said the leveling off was due to April’s having four full weekends, compared with five in March. A full month of table games at Maryland Live and Hollywood, combined with the opening of Rocky Gap late last month, contributed to a record May.

From July 1, 2012, through May 31 this year, Maryland’s casinos have generated $256.8 million for the Education Trust Fund. Casino operators’ share of the revenue totals $193.4 million. Slot machines are taxed at 67 percent at every casino except Rocky Gap, which keeps half of its revenue. Table games are taxed at 20 percent at all four casinos.

Maryland’s fifth casino, the last of the five originally approved by the General Assembly and Maryland voters in 2008, is expected to open on Russell Street in Baltimore next July. Bids for a casino license in Prince George’s County are under review by the state Video Lottery Facility Location Commission, and a license could be awarded by the end of this year.