Smaller Maryland Casinos Post Record May Profits, But MGM National Harbor Remains Top Dog

Posted on: June 6, 2018, 12:20h. 

Last updated on: June 6, 2018, 12:22h.

Maryland casinos had a record month of May, and finally saw some return of their revenue growth. Ever since the MGM National Harbor took up residence on the Potomac River in Oxon Hill, Maryland — a suburb of Washington, DC — back in December of 2016, it’s been an uphill battle to maintain homeostasis for the Free State’s smaller footprint gaming venues.

Maryland casinos
David, meet Goliath: Maryland’s five smaller casinos recorded record profits in May, the first time they had done so since MGM National Harbor opened 18 months ago. (Source: Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Agency this week released financial figures reflecting record gains. All six of the state’s casinos — including the National Harbor — reported revenue increases last month, leading to $156.6 million in total profits, and representing a 14.7 percent increase over the same time last year.

That makes May the best month ever for Maryland, topping the old record — set only two months ago — by a $6.5 million dollar margin. It also marks the first time that every casino in Maryland has shown a profit since MGM National Harbor first opened.

Fighting Back

It’s been a struggle for the smaller venues ever since the $1.4 billion MGM casino resort opened just south of the nation’s capital.

Just six months after the arrival of MGM, the state’s second-largest casino, Maryland Live!, saw profits plunge by 22.5 percent to $46.8 in July of 2017.

The Horseshoe Casino Baltimore’s revenues dipped by eight percent, to $22.9 million, over the same period, while profits at Hollywood Casino Perryville and the Casino at Ocean Downs fell 2.4 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

The MGM National Harbor, meanwhile, kept gaining steam, garnering $50 million in profits in five of the first six months of 2017, right after its opening.

May brought a new day, however, and the early part of 2018 has seen the smaller casinos move out of the red and get back on the rebound. But while all of them were in the black for the first time since the MGM moved in, the National Harbor still recorded the most profit and growth of all six.

  • MGM National Harbor: $62.3 million revenue, 23.2 percent growth
  • Maryland Live! Casino and Hotel: $52 million revenue, 13.4 percent growth
  • Horseshoe Casino Baltimore: $24.1 million revenue, two percent growth
  • Hollywood Casino Perryville: $6.8 million revenue, 6.7 percent growth
  • Ocean Downs Casino: $6.4 million revenue, 21 percent growth
  • Rocky Gap Casino: $4.9 million revenue, 3.9 percent growth

Ocean Downs’ hefty increase — second only to the National Harbor by percentage growth — was fueled by the introduction of table games late last year.

Live! Another Day

The state’s second-biggest gaming venue isn’t taking the challenge sitting down. Maryland Live! is about to unveil its latest weapon in the battle against the mighty MGM empire.

The momentum from the early part of 2018 should continue to be boosted by the opening of a new, $200 million hotel tower this week. The 17-floor building features 310 rooms, which now puts it neck and neck with the 308 rooms offered by the National Harbor.

Other competitive upgrades include several new restaurants and shops, a spa, concert venue, and 1,000 new parking spots.