PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Maine's newest casino generated more than $65 million in net revenues in its first year of operation, topping its original projections as well as the revenues of the state's more-established casino.
Oxford Casino had about $53 million in revenues — the amount lost by gamblers — from slot machines between June 2012 and May, and $12 million more from table games such as blackjack and roulette, according to Maine Gambling Control Board records.
For the same 12-month period, Hollywood Slots in Bangor had about $58 million in revenues: $50 million from slots and $8 million from table games. Hollywood Slots was Maine's first casino when it opened in 2005.
Oxford Casino should consider its first year a success, said Clyde Barrow, manager for the Northeast Gaming Research Project at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Slot machine revenues were in line with what Barrow projected before voters approved the casino in 2010, while table game surpassed expectations, he said.
The financial picture apparently is strong enough to draw the interest of Kentucky-based Churchill Downs Inc., which is buying the casino for $160 million in cash. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
"I think the fact that Churchill Downs has offered to buy the facility is an indicator they view it as a good-performing casino," he said. "That's the national market speaking to the issue, saying we like what's happened here."
The casino's general manager, Jack Sours, declined to comment.
Oxford Casino opened on June 5, 2012, in the western Maine town of Oxford, an hour north of Portland. It now has 816 slot machines and 22 table games.
Through March, Oxford was earning a daily average of $197 per slot machine and $1,835 per table game, according to the latest statistics from Spectrum Gaming Group of Linwood, N.J. The original first-year projections called for $203 a day from each slot machine and $1,232 from each table game, Barrow said.
By comparison, Hollywood Slots was making $157 per slot per day for the 12 months through March, and $1,361 per table game, according to Spectrum Gaming.
Dennis Bailey, a longtime casino critic, said he's a bit surprised that Oxford Casino had higher revenues than Hollywood Slots, since the Bangor casino has been around for years and has an established customer base. That's an indication that Oxford has a larger population base to draw from in southern Maine, while probably taking some customers away from Hollywood Slots, about 100 miles away, he said.
But people shouldn't be too impressed with the first-year numbers, he said, because what they show is how much money people — predominantly from Maine — lost to gambling. Casinos don't add to the economy or to the community, he said, they merely redistribute money.
"That's a lot of money coming out of Maine people's pockets," he said. "Had that casino not been there, where would it have gone? That's the big question."