Maryland casinos’ revenue continues to slide

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
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Casinos in Maryland continue to struggle as the state grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

Biz Journals reports that Maryland casinos saw their total revenue decrease more than seven per cent year-on-year in November, the largest drop recorded since the casinos reopened in June, although MGM National Harbour was one of just two that posted gains.

The six casinos pulled in $130.4 million in revenue last month, a drop of $10.5 million or 7.4 per cent compared to November 2019, according to the latest financial report released last Monday by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.

November saw a large divide in performance among the state’s casinos.

While two casinos saw year-over-year gains, three others saw revenue decline by more than 14 per cent. 

Hollywood Casino saw revenue rise 1.6 per cent year-over-year to $5.9 million.

Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino saw the biggest drop, with revenue falling 17 per cent to $15.3 million.

Horseshoe is limited to 25 per cent capacity under Baltimore City’s COVID-19 restrictions, while the state’s other five casinos are all at 50 per cent capacity.

Live Casino and Hotel in Hanover and Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Allegany County also saw large decreases in revenue.

Live saw revenue drop nearly 15 per cent to $45 million, while Rocky Gap’s revenue dropped 14 per cent to $3.8 million.

Allegany County is among the jurisdictions in Western Maryland that has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

As of last Monday morning, Alelgany had a seven-day positivity rate of 18.12 per cent, the highest in Maryland and far above the statewide rate of 7.89 per cent, according to the Maryland Department of Health.

Ocean Downs Casino in Worcester County was the only other casino in the state to see a year-over-year drop.

The casino’s revenue fell roughly six per cent in November to about $5.1 million.

The decrease comes as the casinos had been making gains in recent months after being closed for three months at the beginning of the pandemic.

Overall, revenue was down 6.1 per cent in July, but the gap narrowed to just 3.1 per cent in August.

In September, casinos reported their first year-over-year revenue gain since the pandemic began and in October, revenue was down less than one per cent.

NSW Budget reveals big gambling revenues

Ahead of the New South Wales State Budget, the ABC revealed in November that gambling revenue is back on the up after months of inactivity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gambling tax revenue in the state is expected to be nearly $3 billion this financial year, an increase of around $50 million since the half-yearly review.

Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Tim Costello said the government continues to ignore the personal impact of gambling on families and individuals.

“It’s very, very depressing and the dip for the 10 weeks the pokies were shut was a small dip, now it’s roaring back and we know most of these pokies are in your poorest postcodes,” he said.

“Fairfield residents who are already poor are contributing to treasury disproportionately.”

Queanbeyan poker machines do a roaring trade

While poker machines were closed in the Australian Capital Territory, just across the border in New South Wales, trade was roaring.

The Canberra Times reported in October that profits from pokies in neighbouring Queanbeyan more than doubled each month after ACT clubs stayed closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, when compared to the year prior.

Following reports Canberrans rushed across the border to gamble when NSW venues opened on June 1, the 15 venues in the Queanbeyan-Palerang local government area took in $7,384,845 from gaming that month, up from $3,462,833 in June 2019.

While ACT gaming machines stayed switched off to comply with early stage-three restrictions in July, Queanbeyan’s gaming profit shot up more than 150 per cent on the same time last year.

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