Maryland casinos marched to the beat of a different drum last month amid a pandemic, as the state’s six commercial land-based casinos reported record revenue.
Gross gaming revenue (GGR) in March totaled more than $169.1 million. Compared with March 2020, which was the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and led to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ordering the casinos to close, March 2021 represented a 146.4 percent year-over-year gain.
Early last month, Hogan lifted capacity limits on the casinos that had been in place since the gaming properties reopened last June.
March’s $169.1 million GGR haul tops the state gaming industry’s previous all-time best of $163.2 million, which was set in March of 2019. The state collected $71 million in gaming taxes last month, with more than $51.6 million going to the state’s Education Trust Fund.
Some health experts are concerned regarding a fourth wave of coronavirus spreading across the country. In Maryland, the state has experienced a 37 percent increase in new cases over the past two weeks.
Maryland’s commercial gaming industry predominantly relies on three casinos — MGM National Harbor, Live! Casino & Hotel, and Horseshoe Baltimore.
MGM is in Prince George’s County, where new COVID-19 cases are up 18 percent. Live! is in Anne Arundel, where cases have climbed 15 percent, and Horseshoe is in Baltimore city, where cases have skyrocketed 55 percent. Despite the case climbs, Marylanders are apparently ready to get out and back to some sense of normalcy.
As it almost always does, MGM led the way in March in terms of GGR. The casino just outside DC won $66.5 million, up six percent from March 2019. (Note: we’re comparing March 2021 with 2019 numbers, since casinos were closed for much of the month in 2020).
Live! was next at $61.1 million, a 9.2 percent bounce in March 2019. Horseshoe was third at $19.7 million. The Caesars Entertainment property continues to struggle, as last month was a 22.7 percent loss compared with March 2019.
Hogan is allowing all six state casinos to operate free of state-ordered capacity limits. But local ordinances in Baltimore and Prince George County continue to limit the MGM and Horseshoe gaming floors to 50 percent capacity.
The state’s three smaller resort-style casinos, Hollywood Casino Perryville, Ocean Downs in Berlin, and Rocky Gap Resort collectively won $21.7 million.
Sports Betting Coming
The NCAA men’s March Madness basketball tournament, one of the biggest-bet events of the US sports betting calendar, ended last night. And while Maryland casinos missed out on the annual tourney, they hope to have their sportsbooks up and running in time for the NFL and college football seasons.
Maryland voters approved legalizing sports betting last November. The state House has approved a plan to allow in-person sports betting at casinos, pro sports stadiums, and horse racetracks. The legislation additionally allows for up to 15 mobile sportsbook permits.
The bill is pending in the Senate, with less than a week to go before the Maryland General Assembly is set to adjourn.
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