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Charles Town casino hit hard by Maryland rival

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Lottery revenue continued to drop in September, down $10.46 million from September 2012, with the state's largest racetrack casino being hard-hit by competition from Maryland, according to figures presented Thursday to the West Virginia Lottery Commission.

The Hollywood Casino in Charles Town has seen monthly table games gross receipts drop more than 40 percent since last year's opening of the Maryland Live! casino and entertainment complex in nearby Anne Arundel County.

In September, table games at Charles Town took in $8.08 million. That's still more than double the revenue of the state's four other casinos combined. However, it's down from a take of $14.7 million as recently as December 2012 -- the month Maryland Live! began full, 24-hour-a-day operations.

On Wednesday, Hollywood Casino general manager Al Britton announced that some employees are being laid off, citing a poor economy. Britton would not say how many employees but said it is fewer than 50.

Overall, the Lottery grossed $100.76 million in September, down about 9.5 percent from September 2012.

For the first three months of the 2013-14 budget year, the Lottery has had total revenue of $315.77 million, down about 8 percent or $27.8 million, from the same point in 2012.

The state's share of Lottery profits in September of $44.15 million was down about 8.8 percent. Year-to-date state profits of $138.77 million are down 8.3 percent.

Video lottery at the four racetracks, the Lottery's largest source of revenue, took in $48.8 million in September, down 14 percent or $7.92 million from September 2012.

For the first three months of the 2013-14 budget year, racetrack video lottery has grossed $156.4 million, down 11 percent or $19.7 million from the same point in 2012.

Limited video lottery, available at 1,465 bars, clubs and fraternal organizations statewide, also continued a downturn in September, with gross revenues falling 6.3 percent to $30.2 million.

Year-to-date, video lottery is down 6.5 percent, compared to the same period in 2012, with revenues of $93.2 million, down $6.37 million.

A usually consistent source of revenue for the Lottery, limited video lottery revenue began a downturn this summer, which Lottery general manager John Musgrave blamed on a weak economy, particularly in southern counties.

"We have to attribute some of that to the economy," he said at the time. "People just don't have the money to spend."

The state's share of casino table game revenues continued a steep decline, with September's $4.08 million down 30.5 percent from September 2012. Year-to-date, table games have produced $14.04 million in revenue for the state, down $4.3 million, or 23 percent from the same point in 2012.

The $80 million casino at The Greenbrier resort has seen an even sharper downturn, producing about $480,000 in revenue from video slots and table games in September, a 40 percent drop from September 2012.

This September, the resort casino took in only $204,307 in table games gross receipts after losing more than $466,000 to mini-baccarat players during the month, according to Lottery reports. The state's share of Greenbrier table games profits was $71,507 for the month.

Year-to-date, the resort casino has produced revenue of $1.7 million, down 25 percent from 2012.

One bright spot for the Lottery is that sales of traditional on-line and scratch-off games are up in 2013, thanks to large jackpot drawings, and new $10 and $20 instant tickets.

Traditional games took in $17.1 million in September, up $1.6 million from September 2012.

Online sales jumped 20 percent, fueled by a $400 million Powerball jackpot during the month.

Lottery marketing director Nikki Orcutt said legislation that went into effect July 1 raising the maximum price for an instant ticket from $5 to $20 has boosted scratch-off ticket sales by 3 percent, with the introduction of $10 games and, this month, a $20 game ticket.

"The $10 and $20 tickets are helping instant sales," she told the Lottery Commission on Thursday.

The $20 ticket has a top prize of $250,000.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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