Local BusinessWilliam J. Ford

Md. Casinos Report Good News as Revenue Begins to Rise

When the coronavirus pandemic affected Maryland’s six casinos in March, sales decreased as low as 30 percent with a possible decrease in revenue of $50 million in fiscal year 2020.

Casinos generated no revenue because they closed in April and May due to stay-at-home orders instituted by Gov. Larry Hogan.

However, the casino industry slowly started to recover when casinos reopened in June as sales increased slightly above 20 percent and brought in about $35 million.

Casino revenue generated from the state’s six casinos for the month of July are scheduled to be released this week.

“Our theory at this point is that there really is just no place else for people to spend discretionary entertainment dollars,” said Gordon Medenica, director of the state’s Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. “There are no movies. There are no sports. There are no concerts. It has obviously been to our benefit.”

Medenica said estimates show the casino industry could receive $583 million from fiscal year 2020 that ended June 30. The figure represents about $12 million than in December 2019, he said.

He spoke before the House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee which held a virtual briefing July 28.

The committee also heard from the state’s casino representatives at Hollywood Casino in Cecil County; Ocean Downs in Worchester County; Live! Casino and Hotel in Anne Arundel County; Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Allegheny County; Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore; and MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County.

Besides casino table and card games and slot machines, people purchased scratch and other lottery tickets at grocery and convention stores, played three- and four-digit number games and virtual horse racing games.

After each casino closed March 16, the same day as public schools closed, casino officials began to work on reopening plans such as assessing capacity limits, cleaning of buildings and reduced hours.

Since July 2019, casinos generated about $60 million per month that contribute to local taxes, public schools and community projects where casinos are located.

When they reopened in the middle of June, they generated about $15 million. Hogan ordered each casino must open at only 50 percent capacity. In addition, casinos needed to implement social distancing guidelines, hand sanitizer or other hand-washing measures.

Due to the pandemic and casinos closed for several months, the industry isn’t expected to bring in estimated figures contributed to the state economy. Medenica said at least 50 percent of casino revenue could be generated.

MGM casino and resort, the state’s most profitable casino, generated slightly more $8 million in June from slot machines and table games, according to state gaming figure. The resort opened for invited guests June 26 and then for the public June 29.

In comparison, Hollywood, Ocean Downs and Rocky Gap all reopened June 19 and generated a total of more than $8.3 million.

Horseshoe reopened June 26 for invited guests and June 28 to the public at generated nearly $2.6 million in June.

Live! Casino received the most in June with $15.8 million from slots and table games after it reopened June 19-28 for special guests and to the general public June 29.

Jorge Perez, president of MGM National Harbor and regional chief operation officer for MGM, said the company furloughed 96 percent of its more than 60,000 employees during the pandemic. At National Harbor, about 3,200 of the 3,400 employees got furloughed.

Although patrons and employees at MGM National Harbor can use hand sanitizer at various table game, plexiglass separated between each player and employee and a decrease in seats at tables, Perez said the company has open positions still available.

“We’ve got a lot of open positions and it’s been a challenge to get employees to come back,” he said. “It is more difficult. It is more challenging for them.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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