There was a story in this morning's Baltimore Sun about our casinos here in Maryland, and it's demonstrable for one key point that is prevalent throughout the story:
When plans called for a Harrah's to rise not far from M&T Bank Stadium, the Baltimore casino was slated to have 3,750 video lottery terminals delivering 67 percent of revenue to the state.
Instead, a Horseshoe casino — a brand known for its ties to big-money poker games — will fill the vacant lot on Russell Street. It will house 2,500 slots, with the leftover space used in part to accommodate 900 seats around 130 table games. The state receives only 20 percent of table games revenue.
Horseshoe isn't the only Maryland casino to dial back on its slot machines in favor of more lucrative table games, approved by state referendum last November. Hollywood Casino in Perryville has cut its slots from 1,500 to 1,148, Maryland Live Casino idled several hundred slot machines to make room for table games and the Rocky Gap Casino Resort opened last month with 558 machines, down from the 850 first proposed. Still, casino operators and state officials say the shift toward poker, blackjack and roulette won't reduce Maryland's cut of casinos' windfall.
Stephen Martino, director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said he wasn't troubled by the trend toward fewer slots and more table games. "The state is not going to see less money," he said.
With three of four Maryland casinos running table games, the trend has been positive. The state's casinos paid $32 million in taxes in February, the last month without table games, and $37.2 million in May.