Annual casino revenue off by 15 percent due to coronavirus

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Photo via Horseshoe Casino/Facebook

With Maryland’s six casinos closed since the middle of March, gambling revenue has declined by about 15 percent in the current fiscal year, according to a new report from the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.

From July 2019 through April, a period covering the first 10 months of the fiscal year, the casinos have generated a little more than $1.2 billion, down more than $220 million compared to the same period last year.

In April 2019, the casinos took in more than $145 million, of which $60 million went to the state, including $45 million for the Education Trust Fund.

“These are truly unprecedented times,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director Gordon Medenica said in a statement. “The casinos generate vital revenue for the state, but we remain focused on the health and safety of the casinos’ patrons and employees as we plan for reopening.”

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Larry Hogan on March 12 issued an executive order limiting crowds to 250 people. But casinos remained open another four days, at which point a separate order explicitly closing them, as well as racetracks and off-track betting parlors, took effect.

With the casinos closed for more than a month, the state’s portion of gambling money is expected to decline by $85 million, or 14.2 percent, the agency said. There’s a commensurate drop in money for the Education Trust Fund, which has declined by nearly $64 million as of the end of April.

Maryland’s six casinos are: MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County; Live! Casino & Hotel in Anne Arundel County; Horseshoe Casino Baltimore in Baltimore City; Ocean Downs Casino in Worcester County; Hollywood Casino Perryville in Cecil County; and Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Allegany County.

Medenica said his agency is working with management at all six casinos to implement new safety measures and cleaning protocols for when the gambling halls can reopen.

“One advantage is that they already have extensive surveillance and security measures in place, which gives them unique capabilities for monitoring their patrons’ adherence to social distancing and other safety protocols,” he said.

Brandon Weigel

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