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Casino revenue on track to beat estimates

Maryland’s casinos are expected to significantly outpace revenue projections this fiscal year, the state’s top gambling official said Thursday.

Stephen L. Martino, director of the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, told the state gambling commission that casinos would generate “10 to 13 percent” more money in fiscal 2013 than projected by the state Board of Revenue Estimates.

After a record revenue month in May — $69.2 million — Maryland’s four casinos had already exceeded expectations. Martino expects the fiscal year will close this month with millions more than budgeted.

“June is essentially going to be excess money,” Martino said.

Slot machines have combined to generate $511.1 million in revenue this year, about two-thirds of which has gone to the state. Table games have generated $30.7 million in revenue since the first cards were unpackaged in March, 20 percent of which goes to the state Education Trust Fund.

Casinos’ revenue totals have increased as money from traditional lottery games has fallen off. After 15 consecutive years of record sales, the lottery is straining to meet revenue projections, and will not set a record in 2013.

Martino and other officials have blamed that drop on the impact of Maryland Live Casino at Arundel Mills mall, Maryland’s largest and highest-grossing commercial gambling facility.

Also on Thursday, the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission gave conditional approval to a bi-level, 52-table poker room at Maryland Live, which expects to open the room for play on Aug. 28, after staff observe a controlled demonstration.

“Game limits and spreads are still pending approval, but we are planning to offer a full array of games to accommodate every level of player from the casual player to big games,” Maryland Live Director of Poker Operations Mike Smith said in a statement. “We will offer a comfortable, well-managed, state-of-the-art poker room with a terrific staff and a variety of games and limits to please everyone.”

The 52 poker tables will bring Maryland Live’s table game total to 174. The 14,800-square-foot addition to the existing casino will employ about 250 additional people and bring the total number of jobs at the casino to 2,800, according to a company statement.