tate gaming and lottery officials on Monday released the latest revenue report that sheds light on how Maryland’s six casinos have fared after closing for more than three months and only recently reopening. Casino revenue for fiscal 2020 totaled $1.3 billion, down 27.3% compared to the nearly $1.8 billion generated in fiscal 2019, Baltimore Business Journal reports. The fiscal year spanned July 2019 to June 2020, a time period encompassing the mandated closures that began March 16 to help slow the spread of the virus.
Gov. Larry Hogan allowed the state's six casinos to reopen at half capacity starting on June 19. Some waited longer to return, while others reopened in phases, offering members-only days before opening their doors to the general public.
That partial reopening added up to $34.9 million in casino revenues in June, according to Monday's report, contributing more than $14 million to the state’s coffers, down more than 75% compared to the same month last year when the industry raked in more than $142.8 million.
Live Casino, which reopened for invited guests June 19 and for the public June 29, accounted for nearly half of the total, pulling in nearly $15.9 million from slots and table games. Horseshoe Casino, which welcomed back a limited audience on June 26 and opened for the general public two days later, reported $2.6 million in revenues in June.
“We think it’s important first of all to focus on safety first and then allow the casinos to reopen gradually,” said Gordon Medenica, the director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, as reported by WJZ.
“We feel that probably this year, particularly because of the casino’s shut down, we’ll probably be something like $190 million less than we were last year where we did about ($1.3 billion) in total aid to the state of Maryland,” Medenica said.
He estimated this fiscal year’s total will be closer to $1.1 billion. It remains unclear when casinos might see a complete return to business, but Medenica said gaming officials are looking at a number of initiatives. “We hope sports betting, for example, will be coming by year-end when the referendum takes place,” he said. The industry had been on an upward climb since late 2019, with four months of increasing year-over-year revenues — including a 10.6% boost in February — before the Covid-19 outbreak began. Forced closures sliced the industry's revenue by almost 60% in March.
The lost revenue cuts into contributions to the state's Education Trust Fund, which supports public education, as well as purses for horse racing and local impact grants for communities surrounding the casinos.
For now, casinos are limited to 50% capacity and have reduced the number of slot machines available on the gaming floor as well as the number of seats at gaming tables to enable social distancing. Patrons and staff are required to have their temperatures screened and wear face masks.
Still, some casino operators see hope in what they describe as pent-up demand from gamblers. "Customers over time are getting used to the new world," Live General Manager Anthony Faranca said last month. "I think we'll see a natural return to growth over time."