Maryland’s shiny new $1.4 billion casino in Prince George’s County is attracting a ton of gamblers or some people with really deep pockets, or possibly both.
Maryland Lottery and Gaming, overseer of all legal gambling in the state, reported today that MGM National Harbor raked in nearly $42 million in revenue last month. As a frame of reference, it nearly edged out longtime top-grossing Maryland Live Casino at Arundel Mills ($48 million for December) and made $12.2 million more than Horseshoe Casino here in Baltimore, despite operating for just three weeks.
There are two moral sides to gambling: It’s addictive to individuals and toxic to communities, or it’s fun, legal and great for raising money for public institutions like schools. If you’re in the latter camp (and believe the money actually makes it to the schools instead of being diverted to other sources), you’ll be thrilled to learn Maryland casinos last month drew $33.4 million for the state’s Education Trust Fund, which dedicates money to Maryland schools. About $12.6 million of that total came straight from MGM National Harbor.
The way the split works, according to the Maryland Gaming Commission’s website, is that 15 percent of the money from table games at the casinos now goes to the Education Trust Fund, while five percent goes to local impact grants. Casinos get to keep 80 percent of the overall revenue from table games.
Thanks to the addition of MGM National Harbor, the December numbers for Maryland’s casinos were record-breaking. The $133.5 million mark for the month was a nearly 22-percent increase from the previous record of $103.5 million set last May.
Obviously, some officials are excited. “We anticipated that December would be a record-breaking month, and we are tremendously enthusiastic about the future of Maryland’s casino program,” said Gordon Medenica, director of Maryland Lottery and Gaming, in a release.
With so much opportunity on the horizon for Maryland casinos, it’s worth remembering that a lot more of this money could be going to schools and other local projects if the state hadn’t cut the casinos significant tax breaks in 2012. The hope is that as MGM takes on a leading role as a moneymaker in Maryland, state legislators will re-examine ways the state’s public entities could reap more benefits (and actually get the revenue) from the six casinos around the state.
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