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    Study: Maryland casino impact tops $1 billion

    December 9, 2014

    Casinos pumped $1.38 billion into the Maryland economy last year and supported almost 8,000 jobs, a new gaming industry study found.

    The American Gaming Association study released Monday examined the impact on the state economy in 2013, before the state added its fifth casino or collected an entire year’s worth of table game revenues.

    Rob Norton, general manager of Maryland Live! in Hanover, said the study and the growth of the industry in 2014 reinforce not only the direct contribution of casino gaming through taxes, revenue and wages, but also the ripple effect on local businesses.

    “The thing that the study does is, it helps qualify what we in the industry have been sharing for a long time…” he said.

    Released five weeks before the start of the next General Assembly and the inauguration of Governor-elect Larry Hogan, the study by Oxford Economics said casinos pay enough taxes to cover the salaries of 12,500 teachers.

    Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the association, said the future success of the industry in Maryland “depends on strong partnerships with policymakers that allow us to innovate, reinvest and create more jobs.”

    Norton said that translates a stable and predictable business climate. Within a year of the state’s legalization of casinos, lawmakers added table games, expanded to 24 hours a day operations, turned control of the machines directly over to the casinos, changed the revenue sharing formula and added a sixth casino.

    While Norton didn’t cite specific legislative initiatives facing the industry, he acknowledged some states are considering legalization of Internet gaming. That would be a direct competitor to casinos.

    “The states need to consider an approach that maintains on-the-ground, bricks and mortar stability that contribute to the local economy,” Norton said.

    According to the study, Maryland casinos:

    •Generated $837.7 million in revenues from gaming, entertainment, and other spending.

    •Contributed $543 million in taxes to local, state and federal governments.

    •Paid $359 million in wages in 2013.

    •Directly employed 3,968 people.

    •Supported 523 jobs outside the casinos.

    •Benefited another 3,448 workers in other companies.

    With 3,000 full- and part-time employees, Norton said Maryland Live! is the state’s largest casino employer. Wages run from $10 to $12 an hour all the way up to six figure salaries for career positions, Norton said.

    “One of the misleading factors in looking at the pay is that the vast majority of jobs are tip based,” Norton said.

    A dealer making a relatively low hourly wage, can bring home more that $50,000 a year in tips, Norton said.

    The study did not include the impact of jobs at Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, which added another 1,700 jobs in August or the MGM National Harbor, which is projected to add another 3,800 when it opens in 2016.

    Casino gambling is an increasingly crowded business, both nationwide and in Maryland. Casinos in Atlantic City have closed as surrounding states have gotten into the business and the Cordish Cos., owner of Maryland Live!, was recently chosen to develop a sixth Pennsylvania casino.

    As the competition increases, Maryland Live! is taking steps to keep its place in the market. It recently filed a notice with the county that it plans to develop a 300-room hotel next to the casino.

    Norton declined to discuss the project until a later date.

    Maryland Live! remains the state’s most lucrative casino, posting $53.8 million in revenues last month. That was more than twice the $23.3 million reported by Horseshoe Casino — and more than half the statewide $90 million total.

    Some analysts predicted Maryland Live! would suffer once another casino opened just 20 minutes way. Norton said the reality has been that the casinos serve two different markets.

    “We are a convenient suburban market that’s focused between D.C. and Baltimore and they are a city casino,” he said.

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