Maryland’s billion-dollar casino boom: Big revenue boost projected from Horseshoe

November 20, 2013

The Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore isn’t scheduled to open until the second half of next year — but that hasn’t stopped the state from counting its future haul.

In its first full fiscal year, the casino will generate between $425 million and $454 million in gambling revenue, swelling state and local coffers with between $207 million and $231 million in taxes, according to a pair of fiscal studies commissioned by state gambling regulators.

Under construction a few blocks from M&T Bank Stadium, the two-story Horseshoe is expected to turn Maryland into a billion-dollar-a-year casino market. Both studies project the state’s total gambling revenue to grow by about 30 percent, surpassing $1.15 billion in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2015.

A massive chunk of the Horseshoe’s business will come at the expense of Maryland Live, the money-minting Arundel Mills mall casino that stands to lose a projected $130 million in slots and table-games business to its Baltimore rival that first full year.

But even with money being siphoned up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, the studies said, Maryland Live still stands to generate between $542 million and $552 million in gross gambling revenue.

Drawn up by two consultants who worked independently, using their own modeling systems, the reports were presented Tuesday to the Maryland Department of Budget and Management, the Board of Revenue Estimates and others. On Wednesday, the consultants shared their findings at the Lottery and Gaming Control Commission’s monthly meeting.

The studies were commissioned to help the state understand “where gaming revenues are going . . . as the competitive landscape changes,” said Stephen Martino, Maryland’s top gambling regulator.

And more change is coming. Maryland’s Video Lottery Facility Location Commission confirmed this week that it will award the state’s sixth and final casino license, in Prince George’s County, the week before Christmas.

The commission will hold a series of public meetings next month, including one on Dec. 6 in Annapolis, at which the consultants who studied the impact of the Horseshoe will share their projections for the three Prince George’s proposals.

MGM Resorts is proposing to build a $925 million casino and hotel at National Harbor. An affiliate of Greenwood Racing wants to build a $761 million Parx-branded gambling resort on a wooded 22-acre lot off Indian Head Highway in Fort Washington. Penn National Gaming is proposing a $700 million Hollywood-branded casino and hotel at the historic Rosecroft harness-racing track.

The second meeting, on Dec. 12, will be a public conference call with the commissioners, consultants and the three companies bidding for the lucrative license.

The final meeting will be held in Baltimore on Dec. 20, when the commission plans to deliberate and then make a final decision.

See previous stories in an occasional series exploring the changing casino industry and gambling culture in Maryland.
J. Freedom du Lac is the editor of The Post's general assignment news desk. He was previously a Local enterprise reporter and, before that, the paper’s pop music critic.
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