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The month of November has delivered a mixed bag of fateful wagering news for the state of Maryland.
Most heralded was the announcement of overwhelming support by voters in a referendum for sports betting at Maryland casinos and stadiums. That likely will also be followed by online sports wagering access as well soon within the state.
Earlier this week, a bit more sobering news about November was reported as Maryland’s casinos saw a large revenue drop occur. The decrease comes after casinos had been making noticeable gains following a statewide shutdown due to COVID-19.
As reported by Maryland Lottery and Gaming, the six Maryland casinos generated a gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $130.3m, indicating an 8.6% decrease from the previous month’s total of $142.7m. The amount is also $10.4m or 7.4% less than the aggregate revenue posted by all Maryland casinos during November 2019.
The $130.3m total in November revenue is derived from Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) and table games combined. The combined VLT Gross Terminal Revenue last month was $83,433,206 while the table game intake was $46,944,272.
As expected, flagship property MGM National Harbor led the way with $55.3 million in November followed by Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover ($45 million), Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore ($15.25 million), Hollywood Casino in Perryville ($5.9M), Ocean Downs Casino in Berlin ($5.1M) and Rocky Gap Casino in Flintstone ($3.8M).
By category, Live! Casino and Hotel topped the month for VLT revenue at nearly $30.9 million, slightly ahead of MGM National Harbor’s $29.8 million. Live! has 2,533 slots compared to 1,665 available at MGM. For table games, MGM National Harbor held the largest share at $25.5 million in GTR, followed by Live! with $14.1 million. MGM has 193 table games compared to Live! at 184.
The drop in casino revenue was not totally surprising due to a few inter-relating factors. But surely most critical was the city of Baltimore tightened their restrictions to a 25% entrance capacity limit in November after being allowed to operate at 50% capacity for two continuous months.
Facilities on the list included restaurants, gyms, retailers, and casinos directly having an impact upon the situation. Under an order by Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young, Baltimore’s sole casino, the Horseshoe Casino was especially affected. The other five properties in Maryland remain at 50% operational capacity.
While the usual legislative and operational steps need to be checked off before sports wagering can officially begin in Maryland sometime in 2021, perhaps November’s negative report may have a catalyst effect.
Within the November report, Horseshoe Casino’s GGR is an all-time monthly low for the property owned by Caesars Entertainment. Although obtaining some highlights, the casino has generally struggled since Caesars’s obtained the license to operate and manage the property in 2012. While all Maryland’s casinos will benefit from onsite sports wagering, it is expected that the Horseshoe will benefit the most overall in helping incremental casino business.
Many in Maryland anxiously await sports betting as projections estimate it could generate up to $20 million a year for the state, according to the state’s Department of Legislative Services. Important while Democratic legislators are simultaneously pushing a $32 billion education reform bill to help low-income school districts.
Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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