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Maryland Casinos See Revenue Dip Amid Online Gaming Debate

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Maryland Live Casino (Hanover)

Branimir Ivanov | Senior News Contributor

Updated: May 8, 2024

Dips and Rises

Maryland's casino industry, a significant contributor to the state's revenue, witnessed a decline in April, according to the latest report from Maryland Lottery and Gaming (MLG). The six privately owned casinos collectively generated approximately $163.2 million from slot machines and table games, marking a 6.6% decrease compared to April 2023 and an 8.41% drop from March 2024. Despite this monthly decline, April's revenue still surpassed the totals recorded in January and February of the same year, showing resilience amidst fluctuations.

While Maryland boasts a thriving casino sector, the legalization of online casinos remains a point of contention. In 2024, the state came close to passing legislation to legalize online gambling, reflecting the growing trend across many states in the US. However, Sen. Ron Watson, the sponsor of the Senate bill, recently announced that he won't reintroduce the bill until 2026, effectively delaying any legislative efforts in this direction.

The delay in online casino legislation has left Maryland's gambling landscape in a state of uncertainty. Although the House passed HB1319, which included internet gaming in its budget proposal, the Senate decided not to act on online casinos this year. This decision has disappointed proponents of online gambling, who argue that it could provide a much-needed boost to the state's economy, particularly in the wake of revenue declines experienced by brick-and-mortar casinos.

The revenue report for April revealed some notable trends among Maryland's casinos. MGM National Harbor, a prominent player in the state's gambling scene, once again emerged as the top revenue earner, despite experiencing a 9.8% annual decrease in revenue. In contrast, Hollywood Casino was the only venue to show a yearly progress in revenue, indicating its ability to adapt to changing market conditions.

 

Here's a breakdown of the revenue generated by each Maryland casino in April:

  • MGM National Harbor: $68.1 million (a 9.8% annual decrease)
  • Live! Casino & Hotel: $60.9 million (a 1.9% year-over-year decrease)
  • Horseshoe Casino: $14.7 million (a 10.8% decline from April 2023)
  • Hollywood Casino: $7.9 million (a 6.0% yearly increase)
  • Ocean Downs Casino: $7.3 million (a 7.6% decrease from April 2023)
  • Rocky Gap Casino: $4.3 million (a 20.6% annual drop)

Despite the decline in revenue, Maryland's casinos continue to contribute significantly to the state's coffers. However, casino gaming contributions to the state during April totaled $69.8 million, marking a 3.6% annual and 8.8% monthly decrease. Similarly, contributions to the Education Trust Fund amounted to $50.4 million, showing an 8.7% monthly decline and a 4.3% annual drop.

The dip in contributions raises concerns about the impact on various sectors supported by casino revenue, including the state's education system and community development initiatives. Maryland's horse racing industry, as well as small, minority- and women-owned businesses, also benefit from casino gaming revenues, highlighting the broader economic implications of the industry's performance.

Moreover, the debate over online casino legalization in Maryland reflects broader discussions across the country regarding the future of gambling. While online gambling offers opportunities for revenue growth and innovation, concerns remain about its potential impact on traditional casinos and problem gambling rates.

 

“Maryland's casino industry, a significant contributor to the state's revenue, witnessed a decline in April, according to the latest report from Maryland Lottery and Gaming (MLG).

 

The Conclusions

Labor unions and some brick-and-mortar casinos, including Maryland Live! and Ocean Downs Casino, have expressed opposition to online gaming, fearing it would cannibalize their business. However, proponents argue that online casinos could complement existing offerings and attract a new demographic of players, ultimately benefiting the state's economy.

As Maryland's casino industry navigates through these challenges, the decision to postpone online casino legislation until 2026 has left many stakeholders eagerly awaiting the next steps. The outcome of future legislative sessions and the broader evolution of the gambling landscape in Maryland will undoubtedly shape the future of the state's gaming industry and its economic impact for years to come.

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