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Can punctuation improve casino revenue?

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When you’re reading a newspaper article about casinos and the phrase “the state’s newest casino surged out of the gate” appears, you know you’re not reading about New Jersey.

Maryland Live — a casino I’d hoped would fall flat because of its insistence of attaching an exclamation point to its name, so lesser editors are tricked into writing headlines like “Impressive casino revenue at Maryland Live!” — brought in $28.5 million in June, even though it wasn’t open for the entire month. The whole casino isn’t open yet, either; the live entertainment and high-end dining portions won’t be operational until later this year, according to Cordish Cos., the builder and operator of the casino. But Maryland — hardly the gaming hotbed Atlantic City is — doesn’t think those numbers are sustainable, guessing that Maryland Live is enjoying a honeymoon that won’t last forever.

At least it’s getting a honeymoon. Back here, it seems we went straight from the aisle to divorce court. In Revel’s first full month, April, it brought in a measly $13.5 million in gaming revenue, after getting more hype than the iPhone, Barack Obama and the Segway. That was good for eighth among the casinos; for June, with its preview period well in the rearview, its clubs open, its bars swinging, Revel brought in $14.9 million, still good for just eighth place. It’s a further embarrassment because of all the capital — political and actual — that was invested in a casino that’s basically mastered the art of running in place.

Perhaps the most eye-popping, if misleading tidbit: In June, Maryland Live paid $19.1 million in taxes to the state, according to that report in the Baltimore Sun; also in June, Atlantic City’s 12 casinos paid $18.6 million in taxes. Since the states tax gaming revenue differently, though, this is admittedly comparing apples and oranges.

We at NJBIZ — and yes, even on this sarcastic blog — have said multiple times that Revel is about more than casino win — it’s got the unenviable task of trying to get people to voluntarily come to Atlantic City as a destination, and as a destination, Atlantic City is not Vegas. But it is a casino first and foremost, and will be judged each month on the basis of its gaming performance.

Perhaps we’ll see a turning of the tide Friday, when the July gaming numbers come out. If not, it may be time for some desperate measures at Revel — like a well-placed exclamation point in the name.

I’m even more irreverent on Twitter @joe_arney.

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