Maryland casinos continue to thrive as they emerge from the pandemic, with the six commercial properties once again reporting a new monthly gaming revenue record.
Gross gaming revenue (GGR) totaled more than $180.1 million in July. Slot machines won $122.7 million, and table games $57.4 million. It’s the third time in the previous five months that Maryland’s casinos have combined to set an all-time monthly high.
The $180.1 million accomplishment is a 4.5 percent gain on the state’s previous monthly GGR record of $172.4 million, which was only set in May. July 2021 was a nearly 29 percent gain on July 2020 — or $40.2 million more money won from gamblers.
The surge resulted in the Maryland Education Trust Fund collecting over $56.2 million last month from casino operations. Along with education, casino taxes support the communities and jurisdictions where the gaming properties are located, plus the state horse racing industry and minority- and women-owned businesses.
Feverish Post-Pandemic Play
COVID-19 relegated gamblers to their houses on stay-at-home-orders throughout much of 2020. The long stints without access to a brick-and-mortar casino has spurred unprecedented pent-up demand in much of the nation.
Along with Maryland, monthly gaming revenue records have been realized in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Those states are reporting better than pre-pandemic gaming activity.
January through July, GGR for Maryland casinos totals $1.10 billion. At this time last year, casino revenue stood at $540.2 million. The $1.1 billion casino win through seven months of 2021 is better than the same period in 2019. GGR two years ago totaled eight percent lower at $1.02 billion.
Slots are driving the 2021 surge. GGR from the terminals through eight months of 2019 totaled $666.75 million. This year, the machines have won $745.44 million.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) lifted all remaining COVID-19-related operating restrictions on casinos in mid-March of this year.
MGM National Harbor and Live! Casino & Hotel dominate the Maryland gaming industry, respectively winning last month $73.3 million and $62.9 million. Horseshoe Baltimore, the state’s other full-scale casino property, is doing everything it can to gain market share.
The Baltimore casino operated by Caesars Entertainment has continually seen its casino numbers decline over the past five years. The company has invested significantly in buying up neighborhood blight between the casino and Baltimore’s nearby professional sports stadiums. The goal is to make the short walk a more appealing trek for sports fans.
After months of year-over-year GGR declines, Horseshoe reversed its fortunes in July. The casino reported gaming revenue of $19.34 million, a 22.4 percent gain on July 2020. That figure is nearly flat from July 2019, when Horseshoe won $19.38 million.
With pent-up demand fueling gaming at Maryland casinos, Horseshoe will look to continue its recovery in the months ahead. It stands to perhaps benefit more than any other state casino with the legalization of sports betting. Regulations are presently being finalized to govern the expanded gambling.
Horseshoe is located less than half a mile from where the Orioles and Ravens play their home games.