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Maryland Update: Table Games & More

Posted by jkarmel on July 24, 2010

I’m just back from Europe after a long trip surrounding a conference in Prague: saw a bunch of small casinos from the outside, even a solitary slot a machine outside a gas station in one place, and a highway service area/mini-casino.

So today in the Baltimore Sun, reporter Hannah Cho has an update of Maryland gaming, including the news that the MD Court of Appeals ruled against the Cordish Company and will allow the referendum to take place on the Arundel Mills casino this November. Obviously, that’s bad news for Cordish — but it’s also good news for Penn National, which should have its Hollywood casino open for business by October with zero real competition in Maryland. The article also has a summary of the new table games action surrounding Maryland – in West Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Here’s a key excerpt:

Delaware Park has reported a slight increase this month in slots revenue, said Andrew Gentile, the casino’s chief operating officer.

“It would be the first month in 25 months that slots revenue is up year over year,” Gentile said. “Table games have brought a lot of energy back to the slots floor.”

Ron Marcus, who owns two hotels near the Charles Town casino, is so optimistic that he’s planning to build two new hotels and to expand his Turf Motel adjacent to the Hollywood Casino.

That table games have boosted VLT revenue at Delaware Park is very significant. Slots are still the driving force and will be the gaming cash cow in the mid-Atlantic for the foreseeable future. Yet table games can make a significant impact, for example accounting for over 30% of revenue in Atlantic City (though we’ll see if that changes now that PA casinos have table games too). Yet, they can bring in new customers to at at casino restaurants, drink at pubs, stay at the hotel, etc. — all to produce revenue.

However, table games often come with significant start-up and labor costs that have to be offset with potential revenues, now complicated for MD casinos due to the close competition. Basically, Maryland’s costly late start with slots/VLTs compared to its neighbors is now being replicated with table games. Is it too late to make them worthwhile for Maryland casinos, even if the state legalizes? Maybe.

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