Maryland Gamblers Playing at Record Levels After COVID-19 Restrictions Lifted

Posted on: June 7, 2021, 09:51h. 

Last updated on: June 7, 2021, 11:11h.

Maryland’s six casinos won more money from gamblers in May than they have in any other single month in the state gaming industry’s history. The first legal bet was wagered in September of 2010.

Maryland casino gross gaming revenue GGR
The Live! Casino floor is seen. The casino helped the Maryland gaming industry record its all-time monthly gaming revenue high last month. (Image: Live! Casino Hotel Maryland)

May gross gaming revenue (GGR) totaled $172.39 million. That tops the previous all-time monthly high of $169.1 million set in March 2021.

May 2021 represented a 13.2 percent on May 2019 when the six casinos won $152.27 million from gamblers. May 2020 casino win was $0, as the properties were closed on Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) orders to combat COVID-19. They were not allowed to begin reopening until June 19. 

MGM National Harbor led the way with nearly $68.4 million in casino win. Live! Casino was next at $61.4 million, and Horseshoe Baltimore third at $19.5 million.

Ocean Downs, Hollywood Perryville, and Rock Gap combined for approximately $23 million.

May casino revenue resulted in $73.4 million in state taxes. The majority is allocated for the Education Trust Fund, which received just shy of $53.3 million. 

Pent-up Demand

Of the six casinos, only one — Horseshoe Baltimore — won fewer gaming dollars in May 2021 than in May 2019. The Caesars Entertainment property continues to struggle, but is investing heavily in removing urban blight between the city’s pro sports stadiums and its casino.

But for the five other casinos, May was a most profitable month. Even compared with May 2019, which, of course, was long prior to the global pandemic, last month the casinos experienced a surge in play on its gaming floors.

MGM National Harbor saw GGR climb 15.7 percent from 2019, and Live! 14.8 percent. The smaller resort-style casinos saw their GGR surge even higher — Hollywood 22.8 percent, Rocky Gap 21.4 percent, and Ocean Downs 18.8 percent. 

Hogan lifted all COVID-19 restrictions in mid-March, but the casinos continued to be subject to local coronavirus ordinances. MGM National Harbor and Horseshoe Baltimore remained restricted to operating at 50 percent of their fire code capacity. But by May 17, they too were free to operate fully.  

Gaming analysts and casino executives have long been promoting the idea that pent-up demand stemming from 2020 lockdowns and stay-at-home orders would result in a quick recovery. That certainly seems to be the case in Maryland, where the six casinos have now posted two record-setting gaming revenue months since March.

Sports Betting Coming

May was great for Maryland casinos, but not just in terms of their land-based gaming performance. The gaming operators also received some big news out of the Annapolis capital that sports betting was officially signed into law by Hogan.

The legislation allows the six casinos to incorporate sportsbooks into their properties, plus operate online sports betting. Hogan was a major supporter of the initiative, as tax revenue from sports wagering will also be allocated for public K-12 education.

Maryland joins its four border states in legalizing sports betting — Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, and Virginia.