Maryland casinos saw gross gaming revenue (GGR) climb 6.1 percent in February to $136.57 million, an increase of more than $7.85 million compared to the same month in 2017.

Maryland casinos gross revenue MGM

Just a little over a year since its December 2016 opening, and MGM National Harbor is accounting for the lion’s share of gaming revenue among Maryland casinos. (Image: Travis Riddick/The Washington Informer)

February is just the second full month that GGR can be compared for all six casinos, as MGM Resorts opened its $1.4 billion National Harbor in December of 2016. Now with two year-over-year comparisons in the bag, there’s plenty of reason for optimism regarding the Old Line State’s gaming industry.

Maryland casinos kicked off 2018 with a 1.2 percent gain in January. February’s more than six percent increase shows gaming is only growing.

MGM National Harbor led the way last month with $52.1 million in slot and table revenue, a 16 percent surge. Maryland Live was next at $46.99 million, up 1.5 percent. Horseshoe Baltimore generated GGR of $21.44 million, a 2.7 percent decrease.

The three smaller rural resort casinos collectively grossed about $15 million.

Live is Alive

Perhaps the best bit of statistical information from the February report is the fact that Maryland Live, the state’s richest gaming floor prior to National Harbor opening its doors, saw GGR increase last month.

Located 35 miles north of MGM National Harbor near the BWI airport, Live saw its GGR plummet more than $108 million last year. In response to its new competition, Live’s parent company, Baltimore-based The Cordish Companies, is in the process of constructing a hotel tower with 310 guestrooms, two more than National Harbor.

Last month, Maryland Live also announced plans to build a covered outdoor gaming area where smoking will be permitted. While National Harbor has many amenities Live does not, for instance numerous restaurants, retail shopping, entertainment venue, convention and meeting space, and a 27,000-square-foot spa, MGM doesn’t offer smokers the ability to gamble while indulging in their two vices.

Maryland’s Clean Indoor Act bars casinos from allowing smoking inside, but gaming operators can apply for special outdoor gaming permits with the state’s Lottery and Gaming Control Commission.

To date, National Harbor seems disinterested in offering such a space.

GGR Down Elsewhere

Maryland’s strong two-month 2018 kickoff is especially promising considering that hasn’t been the case in other key gaming markets.

In nearby Atlantic City, total gaming win in January fell 10 percent for the town’s seven remaining casinos. Internet gambling, up 16.7 percent, helped partially offset a 12.6 percent land-based decline. Analysts credited a January blizzard for the sharp decline.

In Nevada, gross gaming revenue also opened 2018 lower than in 2017. Though Silver State casinos eclipsed the $1 billion mark for the first time in a year, January’s $1.015 billion haul represented a two percent drop.

On the Las Vegas Strip, things were even worse. GGR there fell nine percent, and marked the fourth consecutive monthly loss for the main drag following the October 1 mass shooting.

Pennsylvania’s 12 land-based casinos saw GGR dip almost two percent in January to $248.8 million. February slot machine GGR fell 1.7 percent to $189 million.

When the state’s Gaming Control Board releases table game numbers, February will likely mark Pennsylvania’s second consecutive monthly gaming revenue decline.