Maryland raked in more than $1 billion from casino revenue and lottery sales, marking a record haul for the fiscal year that ended June 30, state officials said.
The take — $525 million from the lottery and $487 million from casinos — represents a 19 percent increase from the year before, the bulk of that due to the opening last August of the Horseshoe in Baltimore, the state’s fifth casino. And the number would have been higher if Horseshoe had lived up to expectations. It has pulled in about $60 million less than projected in its first year of operation.
Gordon Medenica, the new head of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, called it “a good year, a strong year.”
He expressed confidence that casino growth is on track as Maryland prepares for the opening of the $1.3 billion MGM National Harbor casino and resort in Prince George’s County late next year.
“In 2016, we will still have the maturation of Horseshoe,” Medenica said. “I think you’re going to see good positive growth there, and, of course, I think it will pop again when MGM launches later next year. ”
And despite concerns about an over-saturated casino market in the Mid-Atlantic region, Medenica said that the state will be able to support its six casinos. While acknowledging difficulties casinos have had in Atlantic City and other areas, he pointed to an overall increase in the total gaming revenue in the Northeast and said Maryland’s location will benefit it.
“We’re kind of geographically lucky being next to Virginia,” Medenica said. “Virginia not having casinos is going to be a positive for us. I think that MGM is going to pull a hefty share from Virginia itself, and, obviously, they’ll pull a little share out of Maryland Live and maybe Baltimore as well. But again, I think the total pie will grow.”
Casinos added nearly 2,000 jobs in the past fiscal year, again mostly due to the opening of Horseshoe. Casinos in the state employ roughly 5,900 workers.
This past fiscal year, Maryland’s five casinos generated slightly more than $1 billion in gross gaming revenue, a 24.5 percent increase over the previous year. The state’s portion of that revenue contributed $388 million to the state’s Education Trust Fund, an 18 percent increase from the previous year. The trust fund supports education programs from early childhood through high school as well as school construction and capital improvement projects.
The rest of Maryland’s cut of the casino revenue was divided between the state’s horse racing industry ($53 million); local impact grants ($36 million) and minority- and women-owned businesses ($10 million).
Lottery sales in the state topped $1.7 billion, a 2.2 percent increase from the previous year. Medenica pointed to a 14 percent increase in the sales of instant tickets (scratch lottery tickets) as one of the highlights and an area where he expects continued growth in the double-digit range.
However, sales were slow in Maryland on national lotteries such as Mega Millions and Powerball, a dip that Medenica attributed to the “lack of eye-popping jackpots that people have come to expect from those games.”
Still, the overall strong showing on the lottery and casino front was welcome news for Gov. Larry Hogan (R).
“Surpassing the $1 billion mark in total contributions to the state is a signficant milestone for Maryland Lottery and Gaming,” Hogan said in a statement. “The lottery continues to be a revenue generator for the state, and the presence of the casinos has created thousands of jobs, boosted local economies and added significant new funding for education.”