Maine casinos paid out $1 billion, kept $53 million in 2014

New, year-end numbers show slot machine gambling was down $15 million at the Oxford Casino in 2014. Hollywood Casino in Bangor saw a $10 million drop, modest after the $100 million wallop the year before.

“I think the novelty is kind of wearing off,” Patrick Fleming, executive director of the Maine Gambling Control Board, said Thursday. “The first year or so (Oxford Casino) was open, they had a pretty significant impact on Bangor and Bangor has kind of leveled out, and I think we’re just establishing where we’re going to be going forward.”

Figures from the gambling board’s annual report to the governor on the state’s two casinos show players wagered $662 million at Oxford and $459.6 million at Hollywood on slot machines last year. That’s down year-over-year from $677.7 million and nearly $469 million, respectively.

Hollywood Casino opened in 2005. When Oxford Casino opened in June 2012, it instantly cut into Hollywood’s bottom line and quickly outpaced it.

“I don’t think Oxford had the expectation that it was going to keep going at the rate that it was,” Fleming said. “I haven’t heard any concerns; they’re both making money.”

Hollywood Casino returned $413 million in winnings  to slots players, paid roughly $22 million in taxes and kept $24.6 million in 2014.

Oxford Casino returned $604.6 million, paid roughly $29 million in taxes and kept $29 million.

With 858 slot machines and 26 table games, Oxford employs about 400 people and is currently hiring, according to spokeswoman Jane McClay Hoyt. She said she wasn’t able to comment on the drop in slot gambling dollars, a decline of 2 percent.

Both casinos saw a $1 million increase in table game revenue, according to the report, Hollywood to $8 million and Oxford to $14.5 million.

Fleming said the mix of players coming in the door had recently changed, with more people heading to table games and fewer to slots.

The state’s General Fund received $8.7 million from the taxes paid by both casinos, harness racing purses received $4.7 million and the Department of Education received $16 million.

The town of Oxford received $1.4 million and Oxford County another $728,322.

With a Boston casino in the planning stages and New Hampshire casinos only proposed in that state’s Legislature, Fleming said he didn’t anticipate any major competitive draws way from Maine’s casinos in 2015, but as — and if — they open, “I think that’s certainly something that’s we’ll be looking at.”

He said he was aware of roughly a dozen bills in front of the Maine Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee this spring, some still being printed, that would expand gambling in Maine: another casino proposed for southern Maine and at least one proposed for northern Maine.

“A bunch of them still haven’t come out of the revisor’s office,” Fleming said. “They didn’t get anywhere last year because they were hoping to get the WhiteSand Gaming report done so they sort of tabled and killed everything last year; so now they’re back and we’ll see what the committee does with these.”