Maryland casinos continue to fare well, but their August performance slowed compared with the state gaming industry’s recent record-setting run.
The state’s six commercial land-based casinos reported gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $168.5 million in August. While that’s a 12.6 percent gain on August 2020, it represents a slowdown from July.
Maryland casinos set an all-time record monthly GGR performance in July by winning $180.1 million from gamblers. It marked the third time in five months that the casinos set a new monthly record mark.
However, the August pullback is somewhat understandable, as July benefited from the July 4 holiday weekend, and kids returned to school last month. August 2021 — in addition to being a nearly 13 percent year-over-year jump — was more than nine percent better than the pre-pandemic August 2019.
All but one Maryland casino experienced better business in August 2021 than in the previous year. And four casinos reported double-digit revenue gains.
MGM National Harbor again led the way in terms of GGR, the integrated resort reporting casino win of $67.4 million. That is just shy of a 13 percent premium on August 2020.
Live! Casino & Hotel was next at $59.5 million — up 13.4 percent. Horseshoe Baltimore won $18 million, a 7.2 percent bump, as the Caesars Entertainment property continues to see its operations improve.
The three smaller resort-style casinos combined to win roughly $23.5 million. Ocean Downs saw GGR climb a sturdy 29 percent to nearly $9.9 million. Hollywood Casino Perryville reported better casino play to the tune of $7.7 million, which was a 14.5 percent addition.
Rocky Gap was the lone casino to see gaming play retract. The Flintstone getaway destination in the western part of the state saw GGR tumble 4.2 percent to $5.9 million.
When casinos do well, so does the state. Gaming taxes totaled $51.7 million in August, an increase of $7.5 million compared with August 2020.
Maryland law requires that its share of gaming revenue be directed to the state’s Education Trust Fund, which supports pre-K-12 public education. Since the first legal casino bet was placed in 2010, gaming has benefited Maryland education to the tune of over $3.2 billion.
Sports Betting Debut
Maryland legalized sports betting in May with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature of a bill that authorizes such gambling. The bill followed a successful ballot referendum vote to amend the state constitution in November.
Maryland plans to tax GGR from sports betting at 15 percent. With upwards of 60 operating licenses available, and betting locations expected at pro sports stadiums, horse racetracks, and wagering kiosks at mom-and-pop shops, the state believes it stands to receive between $15 million and $19 million annually from sports betting.
The Maryland Lottery Commission, which oversees casinos, is hurrying to review applications and issue sports betting licenses. The vast number of sports wagering applications, however, has resulted in the state not having sports betting up and running in time for tonight’s NFL start between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Lottery officials say despite the delay, legal sports betting will go live at some point this fall.