The Washington-Baltimore region has leaped past New York City to become the fourth-largest casino market in the country, according to a new industry report.
The region’s gambling scene is a rising national gaming competitor, according to the report by the American Gaming Association. The area generated $1.77 billion in gaming revenue last year — surpassing New York City’s casino revenue of $1.57 billion — led by MGM National Harbor, which raked in $608.6 million.
The local casino market trails only the Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Chicago markets in commercial gaming revenue, according to the report.
The D.C.-Baltimore casino market as defined by the AGA includes MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Live! Casino in Anne Arundel and Horseshoe in Baltimore. It also includes Hollywood Casino at Charles Town, W.Va.
The growth in the local casino industry last year was driven by expanded gaming in Maryland, one of the most concentrated casino markets in the country. MGM National Harbor opened in December 2016 — the sixth casino in the state and the first in the immediate Washington region — after winning a long and expensive campaign to expand gambling in Maryland.
Maryland’s revenue rose from $1.2 billion in 2016 to $1.61 billion in 2017, up 34.2 percent, according to the industry report. Maryland is racing near the top for gamblers’ choice market outside of Las Vegas.
Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director Gordon Medenica said the state is pleased with the performance of its casinos, which state records show generated a record $1.68 billion in fiscal year 2018, which ended June 30.
“It’s clear they’re not resting on their laurels. We’re seeing ongoing investment in the properties, with the addition of both gaming and nongaming amenities,” he said. “These investments are clearly designed to attract new customers and spur continued growth.”
This summer, MGM National Harbor opened a second-floor gaming area, and Live! Casino opened a 17-story hotel tower and events center.
The two Maryland casinos are among the top 20 U.S. commercial casino properties outside of Nevada, ranked by gross revenue, according to the AGA report. MGM National Harbor is in third place, while Live! Casino ranks No. 9. The Charles Town casino is No. 15.
MGM National Harbor is the leading gaming facility in Maryland, with the state’s six casinos bringing in $146.5 million in gross gambling revenue last month, according to data from the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.
MGM generated $58.3 million from slots and tables — up more than $7.5 million from July 2017. The casino brought in $32 million from its 2,954 slot machines in July, along with $26.3 million from table games.
MGM’s main competitor, Live! Casino, generated $47.7 million in July, while Horseshoe brought in $20.4 million. Revenue from the state’s smaller casinos in July was as follows: Hollywood Casino Perryville generated $6.2 million; Casino at Ocean Downs, $8.6 million; and Rocky Gap Casino Resort, $5.2 million.
The statewide July revenue reflects an increase of 5.6 percent over the same month last year. But it also reflects a lull at state casinos this summer, after record revenue of $156.5 million in May.
Industry experts say 2017 was a landmark year for the commercial casino industry nationwide. After years of steady growth, revenue from casinos surpassed the $40 billion mark for the first time last year, according to data from the gaming association.
The $40.3 billion in gaming revenue in 2017 was a 3.4 percent increase over the previous year. Growth was reported in 20 of 24 commercial casino states, and overall, the industry generated more than $9 billion in gaming taxes.
Stacy Papadopoulos, interim chief executive of the AGA, said the new report shows “the commercial gaming industry’s role as a job creator and revenue generator in states across the country.”
Three casinos opened in New York last year and one opened in Kansas. Other properties, including some in Maryland, underwent renovations and expansions. In Maryland, as more casinos open along the East Coast, gambling establishments are upgrading their offerings, modernizing and adding on-site accommodations in an increasingly competitive and crowded market. At least four of the state’s six casinos have made or are planning major renovations or additions this year.
Across the country, the industry is gearing up for a new phase of growth with the expectation of incorporating sports betting after the Supreme Court last spring struck down a federal law that forbade states from authorizing such betting.
In Maryland, industry leaders are betting on the state to pass legislation to legalize sports gambling by 2020.