Casinos reap benefits as Maryland Lottery revenues drop

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Photo - ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - JULY 8:  A group of people play slot machines at Caesars Atlantic City July 8, 2006 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Caesars, along with Atlantic City's 11 other casinos reopend this morning after they were forced to close their gambling floors for the first time in their 28-year history due to the New Jersey state budget impasse.  (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - JULY 8: A group of people play slot machines at Caesars Atlantic City July 8, 2006 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Caesars, along with Atlantic City's 11 other casinos reopend this morning after they were forced to close their gambling floors for the first time in their 28-year history due to the New Jersey state budget impasse. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
Local,Maryland,Matt Connolly

The Maryland Lottery is losing ground thanks largely to the rise of casino gambling in the Free State.

Lottery revenue in fiscal 2013 totaled about $435 million as of April 14, according to a report from lottery Director Stephen Martino. That's less than the $442 million in revenue at the same point last year.

Total sales, according to the report, are down nearly $29 million -- from $1.41 billion as of April 14 last fiscal year to $1.38 billion this year. Revenue from Keno games, which lottery officials said are more similar to slots and casino games than more standard lottery tickets, are down more than $5.9 million over the same period.

"We're starting to see some erosion on some of our

games, particularly Keno," Martino said. "I don't think there's any doubt that there is some crossover."

Martino said during a meeting of the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency that, if the trend continues, total lottery revenue from this fiscal year will fall below last year's $556 million figure. Lottery officials are quick to point out, however, that last year's revenue was buoyed by the record $588 million Powerball jackpot.

Casino revenues, meanwhile, have skyrocketed. Maryland casinos hauled in $58 million in March, up from $16.3 million in March of last year. That's due to the opening of Anne Arundel County's Maryland Live! Casino, which opened in June and accounted for about 77 percent of last month's revenue.

Casinos' share of the state gambling industry is only expected to grow. Maryland Live! added table games this month, while two more major facilities -- a Baltimore casino run by Caesars Entertainment and a Prince George's casino still being bid on -- likely will open in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

That doesn't mean lottery sales will hit a free fall, though. Many of the new casinos' customers will come from out of state, meaning they wouldn't have been able to buy Maryland lottery tickets anyway, gambling analyst James Karmel said. He added that the number of Marylanders inclined to play casino games will eventually hit a ceiling.

"There's only so much business within the region," Karmel said. "A lot of lottery players are not the same as casino players."

mconnolly@washingtonexaminer.com

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Matt Connolly

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner