Maryland Live competition cutting into bottom line

Bid to cut slots as state looks to add casino

PERRYVILLE, Md. - Penn National Gaming is in the business of making money, and for almost two years that hasn't been a problem at Hollywood Casino Perryville, but it is now.

Bill Hayles is the casino's vice president and general manager.

"The Maryland Lottery reports will be coming out today and they'll show that we're, year over year, we're close to 30% off of where we were and we're closer to 40% off of what our peak numbers were in February, March and April," said Hayles.

When Maryland Live Casino opened up, Hollywood Casino's business dropped off from $260 per machine per day to just $150.

It wants the state to take back 500 of its 1,500 machines… ultimately placing them in other facilities so both of them san save some money.

Hayles says this is not a foreboding sign of things to come.

"No.  This is not a death penalty by any stretch of the imagination.  It's just us doing the fiscally responsible thing to make out property the right size so we can maintain our level of profitability."

Hayles readily admits there may be more reasons behind the drop off in revenue in the last few months.

As the casino has renovated to make way for a new upscale casual dining area, complete with a bar and entertainment, the standard buffet has been pushed outside to a tent.

He summer is also an especially slow season for slots.

But early estimates that a casino would thrive here with as many as 2,500 machines simply missed the mark.

"The figures that the state initially put out were way off through some of the analysis they did back then and that's normal," said Hayles, "You never really know what the markets going to bear."

Hollywood Casino says, in the absence of a bill, it's too early to tell what a sixth casino or table games would mean to its bottom line.

Even the taxes, fees and casino's cut from the measure remain a mystery for now.

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