Maryland Casinos Can Reopen June 19, State Loses $149M in Gaming Taxes
Posted on: June 11, 2020, 08:33h.
Last updated on: June 11, 2020, 09:01h.
Governor Larry Hogan (R) says Maryland casinos can soon begin reopening with health safety measures in place.
The governor this week announced he is lifting additional restrictions over the next two weeks to allow more businesses to resume operations. Casinos, along with indoor shopping malls, have been given the green light for June 19.
Maryland is home to six commercial casinos: MGM National Harbor, Live! Casino & Hotel, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Hollywood Casino Perryville, Ocean Downs Casino, and Rocky Gap Casino Resort. Along with Hogan and the state, local governments must allow each casino to reopen.
The six casinos have been shuttered since March 16. The Washington, DC, area was considered a COVID-19 hotspot only a few weeks ago. But much of the region is beginning to reopen.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, says Americans must remain vigilant in dealing with the coronavirus. “Where is it going to end? We’re still at the beginning of really understanding,” Dr. Fauci said Wednesday.
Hogan says Maryland hasn’t just flattened the curve. “We have crushed the curve,” the governor declared.
Maryland casinos reported an all-time revenue high of $1.76 billion in the 2019 fiscal year. Taxes on the gross gaming revenue (GGR) resulted in the Maryland Education Trust receiving $542.7 million.
Since the state’s first casino opened in 2010, the trust has collected more than $3 billion in gaming taxes. The fund supports early childhood education, public elementary and secondary education, public school construction, and capital improvement projects.
With casinos closed for over three months, the education fund will suffer. Maryland casinos have lost $372.5 million in GGR in the 2020 fiscal year, resulting in nearly $149 million fewer tax dollars for education.
Casino Reopening Plans
The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency has yet to issue reopening guidelines that casinos must follow. But the state’s two largest casinos – MGM National Harbor and Live!, have already announced how they plan to welcome back players.
MGM Resort’s $1.4 billion integrated resort outside DC will follow the same reopening plan the company has used in other markets. Among the health safety precautions are mandatory face masks for employees, plexiglass barriers at table games with reduced seating, rearrangement of slot machines to promote social distancing, increased cleaning schedules, and contactless check-ins.
Guests will be “strongly encouraged,” but not required, to wear face masks. Smoking is always prohibited inside Maryland casinos.
Live! is implementing similar safeguards. Owned and operated by Baltimore-based Cordish Companies, the casino resort will initially reopen at 25-50 percent capacity.
Live! says all workers and guests will be required to have their body temperature checked at entry, and anyone with a reading of 100.4 degrees or higher will be denied access. The casino adds that part of its increased cleaning protocols will include the frequent sanitization of everything from table game chairs to casino chips.
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