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Chips at Horseshoe Casino. (File)

Curfew blamed for decrease in Horseshoe Casino revenue

Horsehoe Casino says the curfew derailed what was expected to be the facility's best month of operation.

A curfew imposed in the wake of a riot and a state of emergency declared in Baltimore is being blamed for a decrease in revenue in April at Horseshoe Casino.

The casino operations were affected by a six-day curfew imposed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in the wake of riots and a state of emergency that was declared in Baltimore City. The curfew, which began on April 28, caused the casino, which had been a 24-hour operation, to close from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.

The casino generated more than $22.9 million in April — a decrease of about $1.8 million month over month.

Noah Hirsch, vice president of marketing for the Baltimore Casino, acknowledged the effect of the curfew but expressed optimism now that it has been lifted.

“April was an unprecedented month for Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, as it was for many businesses located in the city,” Hirsch said in a statement. “While the casino was on pace for its best month to date, the need to close for several consecutive nights during peak hours had a significant impact on our monthly revenues. We are pleased to have resumed normal operations and look forward to extending the positive revenue trend we were seeing prior to the incidents that necessitated the citywide curfew.”

The casino announced that despite the closure, it would continue to pay employees for missed shifts related to the curfew.

Overall, Maryland casino revenue dipped by about 2.25 percent in April compared to March, according to new figures released by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.

And while the nearly $89 million represents about a 25 percent increase compared to the same time last year, casino revenue excluding Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore dropped by more than $5.4 million or 7.6 percent. Horseshoe Casino opened in late August 2014.

Much of the year-to-year decline appears to be driven by Maryland Live Casino in Hanover, which reported more than $50.9 million from both slot machines and table games in April — a decrease of more than $5.5 million compared to the same time last year. Month over month, the casino generated $991,000 less than in March.

In January, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission approved a request by the casino to reduce its complement of slot machines by 300 and add 13 table games in a reconfigured facility.

An independent consultant hired by the state projected that such a move would result in short-term losses in state revenue of about $500,000 in the first year for the the casino — a projection that caused some concern among state legislators who look to the additional revenue for education funding.

Robert Norton, president and general manager of Maryland Live, was not immediately available for comment.

Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore had a similar request approved in January.

The facility reduced its complement of 2,500 slot machines by about 300 and plans to replace the games with 30 table games. An independent consultant hired by the state projected in January that the facility would generate about $260,000 in additional revenue to the state in the first year from the move.

Hollywood Casino in Perryville reported generating nearly $6.9 million in combined revenue from slots and table games — an increase of  $357,000 month over month. The figure represents a decrease of more than $821,000 compared to the same time last year.

In December, the state gaming commission approved a request from that casino to eliminate 30o of its poorest performing machines. An independent consultant projected the move would reduce state revenue by $1.2 million over the first year.

The Casino at Ocean Downs reported generating nearly $4.3 million from its slots-only operation. The figure represents a $271,000 increase month over month and a nearly $668,000 increase compared to the same time last year.

Rocky Gap Casino in western Maryland generated more than $3.9 million in revenue from its slots and table games — a $72,000 increase over March. Compared to last year, the figure represents an increase in revenue of more than $292,000.