Photo via Horseshoe Casino/Facebook

Baltimore’s lone casino has started 2019 with a welcome, if rare revenue bump from one year earlier, as statewide casino revenues climbed 7 percent overall.

Revenue climbed to $20.2 million, up 0.6 percent from January 2018, according to the latest figures from Maryland Lottery and Gaming. That represents the best year-over-year mark for the Russell Street casino in several months, following revenue drops of 7 percent and 14 percent in December 2018 and November 2018, respectively.

Prior to last month, Horseshoe’s earnings had fallen in nine of the previous 12 months, save for October 2018 (a healthy 8 percent increase), June (plus 3 percent) and May (2 percent).

That May 2018 revenue increase marked a welcome change for Horseshoe, which until then hadn’t seen earnings increase in 16 months.

Only one of Maryland’s six casinos saw its revenues fall to start the year, with a 4 percent drop recorded last month at Hollywood Casino Perryville.

Horseshoe’s much larger, glitzier new competitor down I-95, MGM National Harbor, predictably drew the lion’s share of Maryland’s gambling earnings in January, accounting for $56.2 million—a 12 percent increase from last January—of the $137 million brought in by all six casinos. Its other main competitor, Live! Casino and Hotel in Arundel Mills, drew $46.3 million in revenue, 6 percent more than one year earlier.

Fifty-five million dollars, about 40 percent of that $137 million total, went to the state.

Amid sliding earnings, Horseshoe has seen an infusion of new celebrity chef branding for its restaurants from the likes of Gordon Ramsey and Giada De Laurentiis in the last couple years. The casino also forged a new promotional partnership with the Baltimore Ravens to use the franchise’s trademarks and re-brand one of Horseshoe’s bars, 14Forty, as a Ravens bar.

The partnership is timely, as legislators are exploring potentially legalizing sports betting in Maryland. Horseshoe’s operators have reportedly expressed interest in opening their own sportsbook if that goes through.

There are also promises of new attractions near the largely industrial district nearby. The Southern Gateway Entertainment District will have a new Topgolf situated on property owned by the casino’s partnership group, located between the casino and M&T Bank Stadium and due to open sometime in 2020. There’s also the awaited revival of Hammerjacks at 1300 Russell St. The bar and concert venue’s partners have said it will open this year.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...