ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The opening of Maryland’s largest casino went a long way to helping the state net nearly $830 million in lottery and casino revenues in the last fiscal year — a 27.6 percent increase from the previous one.

The increase came despite a drop in traditional lottery revenue for the state from $556 million to $545 million. That money goes to the state’s general fund.

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“With the growth of Maryland’s casino industry, the decrease in traditional lottery sales this past fiscal year was not unexpected,” said Stephen Martino, director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. “However, the good news is clear: When combining traditional lottery and casino gaming revenue, there is a significant increase from the previous fiscal year in the amount of money generated for the state.”

Maryland’s four casinos generated $284.3 million for the state, money that is designated in law for the Education Trust Fund. That’s an increase of nearly $190 million over the last fiscal year.

The increase is due mostly to the opening of Maryland Live! in Hanover. It opened in June 2012 with 3,200 slot machines, just weeks before the start of the last fiscal year, which begins July 1. The casino added about 1,500 slot machines not long after it opened.

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“The numbers on the casino side are largely powered by the monthly performance of Maryland Live! with their slot machines and now that they’ve opened table games,” Martino said.

In November, Maryland voters approved a ballot question to allow table games like blackjack as well as another casino that hasn’t been built yet near the nation’s capital. The approval of the ballot question also enabled casinos to be open for 24 hours. Maryland Live! started offering table games in April, when more than half of the last fiscal year had already passed.
In total, the casinos generated $608.3 million in revenue.

In addition to the money raised for the state, $39 million in slot machine cash went to supplement horse racing purses. Another $30.7 million was raised to renew the state’s aging horse racing tracks, and $11 million was generated for lottery operating costs. Another $8.4 million goes to an account for small, minority and women-owned business account.

Two of the state’s larger casinos have yet to be built. A Harrah’s in Baltimore near the stadiums where the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens play is set to open next year. A sixth casino near Washington in Prince George’s County is still in the licensing process. Three companies have submitted plans for that casino, including MGM Resorts International, Penn National Gaming Inc. and Greenwood Racing Inc.

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State officials hope to award a license for the sixth casino by the end of this year. That could not open until July 2016 at the earliest.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)