Maryland Live! casino nipping at MGM National Harbor’s heels


maryland-horseshoe-casino-smoking-terraceMaryland’s casino operators reported a modest revenue gain in November, while the market’s worst performer is pinning its hopes on customers smoking ‘em if they got ‘em.

Figures released Thursday by the Maryland Lottery & Gaming Agency show the state’s six casinos generated total gaming revenue of $140.8m in the month of November, up 0.5% from the same month last year but down more than $3m from October 2019’s total.

MGM Resorts’ National Harbor venue, which has dominated the market since its December 2016 opening, saw its gaming revenue fall 5.9% year-on-year to $53.9m, down around $6m from October 2019.

That was only $1m higher than the sum generated by Cordish Gaming’s Live! Casino & Hotel, which had a firm grip on the state’s casino crown until its throne was so rudely usurped by National Harbor. The Cordish property’s revenue was up 8.7% year-on-year and $5.3m higher than the previous month.

Caesars Entertainment’s Horseshoe Casino Baltimore has suffered most under National Harbor’s reign of terror and November showed no sign of ending that streak. The Shoe generated just under $18.4m in November, down 5.7% year-on-year and only around $100k better than the property’s record low showing this August.

As for the state’s bottom half, Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino Perryville led the way with $5.8m (+6.3%), just ahead of Churchill Downs Inc’s Ocean Downs Casino ($5.4m, +3.7%) while Rocky Gap brought up the rear with $4.4m (+11.1%).

The Shoe unveiled its new expanded outdoor gaming space this week, a 10k-square-foot elevated patio on which patrons can gamble while slowly killing themselves with nicotine. The Shoe previously offered slots-only smoking terraces but unveiled plans this spring to expand the space to include 16 live gaming tables as an added draw.

While December in Maryland might not seem an ideal time to launch a new outdoor attraction – Thursday’s daytime high was expected to be 7° Celsius – the Terrace features large overhead heaters in case the heat of those cigarette and cigar cherries proves insufficient to prevent frostbite.

The Cordish property launched its own smoking patio in 2018, featuring both live and electronic tables in addition to 150 slots. Only time will tell if the Shoe’s new outdoor options will be enough to steal back some market share from its newer, flashier rivals.