Horseshoe Casino logs its first revenue gain in 16 months

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Horseshoe Casino

Call it a comeback? Horseshoe’s luck might just be turning around, with the South Baltimore casino posting its first year-over-year revenue gain in 16 months.

Revenue in May climbed 2 percent compared to May 2017, according to the latest figures from the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. That marks the first sign of growth in nearly a year and a half for the four-year-old gambling spot on Russell Street. In the 16 months between December 2016 and this past May, Horseshoe averaged a monthly slide in year-over-year revenue of more than 13 percent.

The bump for Horseshoe was part of a record-setting month for the state’s six casinos. Altogether they drew $156.6 million, up nearly 15 percent from one year ago.

MGM National Harbor led the pack with $62.3 million, followed by Live! Casino with $52 million. Horseshoe was third with about $24.1 million.

Ocean Downs Casino in Berlin had a particularly strong May, with revenue increasing by more than a fifth from $5.3 million in May 2017 to $6.4 million. The casino’s numbers have improved since it added table games to its formerly slots-only space last December.

Revenue also rose 7 percent for Hollywood Casino Perryville and 4 percent for Rocky Gap Casino in Cumberland.

It’s no secret that Horseshoe’s books have suffered considerably since the opening of the glitzier MGM in Oxon Hill a year and a half ago. The $1.4 billion casino boasts a hotel, concert venue, 15 stores and 12 restaurants or bars, per WTOP, and has drawn enough of a crowd to make it the leading tax source in Prince George’s County.

It’s also pushed competitors to step up their game. The operators of Maryland Live!, The Cordish Companies, just opened a brand new hotel this week to draw more visitors, and Horseshoe is trying to make strides with its food offerings, bringing in new eateries from celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Giada de Laurentiis.

The carrot on the end of the stick for most Marylanders here is the tax money for schools. Previous investigations have found the dollars weren’t quite flowing toward education as lawmakers had promised.

But under a new option approved for referendum by the General Assembly this spring, voters will get to decide in November whether to prohibit the state from dipping into casino revenues for anything except education. According to The Sun, the ballot measure, if approved, would phase in a process by which all casino revenues would be devoted to education by July of 2022.

This post has been corrected to reflect that revenue declined year-over-year for 16 months, not 17.

Ethan McLeod
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