The Washington Post

Md. slots revenue will be lower than expected, analysts say

Bruce Quade stands behind Pat Quade as she points excitedly to the screen after winning during the grand opening of the Casino at Ocean Downs in Berlin, Md. Tuesday, in January. (AP Photo/The Daily Times, Amanda Rippen White)

The revenue write-down is due to the weak economy, greater competition from surrounding states and delayed openings of Maryland casinos, according to a report delivered to lawmakers this week by the Department of Legislative Services.

The news comes as legislators are gearing up to consider several changes to the slots program, including allowing table games at Maryland’s five authorized casinos at allowing a sixth site in Prince George’s County.

According to the analysts, overall slots revenue in Maryland — which is earmarked for education programs — is down about 10 percent because of the economic recession.

The first of the state’s casinos to open, Hollywood Casino in Perryville, is performing about as expected, but revenue is lower than forecast at the Casino at Ocean Downs on the Eastern Shore.

A delay in the planned opening of Maryland Live! at Arundel Mills mall in Hanover will cost the state $179 million in expected revenue this year, the analysts said. The casino is now advertising a June opening.

Licenses for two other authorized casinos — in Baltimore and Western Maryland — were recently rebid and could be awarded by early next year.

Analysts said they have lowered the revenue expectations for Maryland Live! and the Baltimore site due to greater competition from a full-fledged casino in Charles Town, W. Va., and new casinos in the Philadelphia area.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.



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