Maryland Governor Larry Hogan Orders Indefinite Closure of Casinos and Racetracks

Posted on: March 15, 2020, 11:43h. 

Last updated on: March 16, 2020, 09:05h.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) on Sunday issued an emergency order prohibiting mass gatherings, as well as the indefinite closure of the state’s casinos and racetracks.

Maryland casinos coronavirus Hogan
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is shutting down casinos, horse racetracks, and off-track betting facilities. (Image: Office of Governor Larry Hogan)

Effective at midnight on Monday, March 16, Maryland’s six casinos will be forced to suspend their operations. The order applies to MGM National Harbor, Live! Casino & Hotel, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Hollywood Casino Perryville, Ocean Downs Casino, and Rocky Gap Casino Resort.

Six horse racetracks will also be shuttered – Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course, Timonium Race Course, Fair Hill Races, Rosecroft Raceway, and Ocean Downs. Additionally, all parimutuel simulcast betting facilities across the state are closing.

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency says it will work with the casinos to facilitate an orderly shutdown of operations.

“This situation continues to evolve and will escalate rapidly and dramatically,” Hogan stated. “These are unprecedented actions in an extraordinary situation, but they could be the difference in saving lives and keeping people safe.”

The Maryland Department of Health reports 31 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease. Montgomery County has the most cases with 12, and Prince George’s second at nine.

Mass Destruction

Coronavirus is devastating economies around the world, and for local Maryland watering holes, the annual St. Patrick’s Day shindig won’t be the typical revenue boom.

Hogan’s emergency order bans large gatherings, which is defined as 250 or more people. The order makes such gatherings a crime, and businesses will be subjected to penalties and violations if they fail to comply.

It is critical to public health and safety that bars, restaurants, and other businesses across the state comply with the law,” Hogan added. “Anyone who hosts or is part of the crowds in bars this weekend is jeopardizing the health of others and must avoid any contact with family members or friends over the age of 60 or those with underlying health conditions.”

Numerous special Irish-themed events and concerts at the six Maryland casinos have been canceled. The gaming venues are fresh off their best year in history, the six sites collectively winning $1.757 billion in 2019.

Maryland Latest to Close Casinos

Maryland joins a growing list of states where at least one casino has closed in the wake of the global pandemic.

States with closed casinos: California, Rhode Island, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Penn National, the largest regional casino operator in the United States, says 12 of its properties will be closed by Tuesday morning. Boyd Gaming reports four of its casinos are suspended.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted to close its state’s three commercial casinos – Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park. Rhode Island closed its two casinos.

In nearby Connecticut, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation announced temporary changes to its Foxwoods casino’s operations. Beginning tomorrow, March 16, table games will be suspended, as will poker tournaments, sports betting, bingo, and keno. Electronic table games at the Grand Pequot Tower will remain active.

Mohegan Sun canceled its Poker High Hand promotion, but as of this writing, hasn’t announced the suspension of any other casino games.