The Casino at Ocean Downs, in Worcester County on the Eastern Shore, took in roughly $4.4 million from its gambling operations last month — a 16 percent jump from a year ago. Martino attributed the revenue increase at the casino, which opened in January 2011, to improved marketing in and around Ocean City, less than 10 miles from the horse-racing and slots site.
Ocean Downs, which has 800 games, reported a daily take per machine of $183.15 in June.
Sen. James Mathias, a Democrat who represents the Ocean City area, said the local casino's improved results in part reflect a better working relationship between casino owner William Rickman and local government officials. Mathias said the traditionally gambling-wary Ocean City business community now views the Ocean Downs slots less as a threat and more as an opportunity.
Casino ads on Ocean City buses and Ocean Downs' sponsorship of the resort city's air show represent a new dynamic, Mathias said. "We're seeing the relationship build," he said.
Maryland's casino program appears to be making progress, Mathias said, with Maryland Live off to a good start, a licensed operator chosen for Rocky Gap in Allegany County, and a license award apparently close for the site planned along Russell Street in Baltimore.
The five sites authorized by the Maryland General Assembly now offer slot machines only, though there is strong support in the legislature for permitting table games as well. However, while House leaders appear ready to approve table games with no strings attached, the Senate seems determined to couple any such expansion with a new casino in Prince George's County.
Cordish is fiercely resisting any such trade-off, insisting that it's too early to say whether the Baltimore-Washington market can support another casino.
Roughly half of Maryland Live's June customers came from the District of Columbia, Maryland's Washington suburbs and Virginia, Weinberg said. "It is clear that if we are going to continue to meet the state's expectations, we have to be able to continue to draw visitors from these areas."
Advocates for a casino at National Harbor on the Potomac River — the Prince George's site with the most political backing — contend that such a facility could provide significant new revenue for Maryland and the county by drawing out-of-state visitors and international tourists.
Last month, Gov. Martin O'Malley and Senate leaders agreed on a program that would allow both the Prince George's casino and table games at all casinos — along with a lower tax on slots revenue — in the hope of calling a special session this summer to approve the plan. But the House has not budged and prospects of a special session are fading.
O'Malley met for about an hour with House Speaker Michael E. Busch Tuesday afternoon to discuss expanding gambling in Maryland, and afterward told reporters he is "continuing to search for a consensus on this long-lingering issue."
The governor said he hasn't "made a final decision" on whether or not to call the legislature to a special session on July 9 and will make that determination on Thursday or Friday.
Baltimore Sun reporter Annie Linskey contributed to this article.
Maryland Live Casino
Anne Arundel County
Opened June 6, 2012 – $28.5 million
The Casino at Ocean Downs
June 2011 – $3.8 million
June 2012 – $4.4 million
Hollywood Casino Perryville
June 2011 – $8.8 million
June 2012 -- $8 million