Overall revenues up, but Md. casinos underperforming

Is the luck starting to run out on Maryland's casinos? New numbers out show five casinos brought in a record $91 million in March, but monthly revenue at the casinos is dropping except for one -- the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore.

Horseshoe will tell you they are happy the business they have done since they opened their doors in August. But while as a group, earnings from the state's five casinos are up on a year-to-year basis. However, they are only up because the Horseshoe's gains pulled the other four casinos up.

The question now is when it comes to casinos in the state, did Maryland go too big, too soon?

After years as an executive in the Caesars Entertainment organization, Horseshoe Casino Vice President of Marketing Noah Hirsch says the casino wins or loses on one thing: customer loyalty.

"We're continuing to see new guests every single week, every single month," he told us.

New data from Maryland's Lottery and Gaming Control Agency show that year-to-year total revenue from state's five casinos is up $12.2 million -- 16.9 percent from March 2014.

But that is only because Horseshoe is making up ground the other four are losing.

"Well, there are five casinos and it's a pretty competitive market," said Hirsch.

Without Horseshoe, which only opened in August, Maryland's four other casinos saw revenue decline by $11.5 million or 14.8 percent down.

Why did Horseshoe do pretty well?

"We've seen continuous demand for the offers, the products that we have," Hirsch said.

But casino gambling in Maryland wasn't supposed to see just one casino grow -- they all were. Now there are concerns Maryland may have grown gambling too fast.

Sarah Meehan has covered the casino industry for the Baltimore Business Journal and she says even the top earner itself, Horseshoe, has fallen behind earning projections.

"If you look at this month, they notched just over $24 million, but that property was supposed to bringing in $31 million on average," she said.

Meanwhile, the operators of the Horseshoe in Baltimore say they expect their luck will continue even after the MGM National Harbor opens its doors in Prince George's County in 2016.

MGM National Harbor, which is still being built, will be a Vegas-style mega hotel and casino. Even with the new competition, Horseshoe officials are brushing aside talk about them not meeting projections and say they are on a hot streak.

"Right now, where we're at, we're extremely happy with the revenues, we're extremely happy with our growth," said Hirsch.

Just two weeks ago, we asked Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan if he felt the state had maximized the number of casinos that Maryland could support. The governor said he is not so sure about that, but when we pressed and asked if he foresaw more than six casinos in the state, he said, "that's probably enough."

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