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Maryland takes $60 million revenue hit from closed casinos in April

With Maryland’s casinos dark in April to help prevent spread of the coronavirus, the state of Maryland took a roughly $60 million revenue hit in April and is down more than $85 million in the past 10 months, compared with the previous year, the state Lottery and Gaming Commission said Tuesday.

Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the state’s six casinos closed March 16 as part of a series of executive orders designed to slow the spread of the pandemic in Maryland. Through the first 10 months of the state’s fiscal year, the casinos’ contributions are down 15% from the year before.

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“These are truly unprecedented times,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director Gordon Medenica said in a statement. “The casinos generate vital revenue for the state, but we remain focused on the health and safety of the casinos’ patrons and employees as we plan for reopening.”

In April 2019, Maryland’s casinos reported $145.2 million in revenue — $60 million of which went to the state, including $45 million for the Education Trust Fund, according to the commission. The revenues also support the communities where casinos are located and the state’s horse racing industry.

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Contributions to the trust fund in the past 10 months are down more than 14%, roughly in line with total contributions to the state.

The casinos have seen total revenues drop by $220 million over the past 10 months, largely due to the closures, compared with the same period last year.

They are MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County; Live Casino & Hotel in Anne Arundel County; Horseshoe Casino Baltimore in Baltimore City; Ocean Downs Casino in Worcester County; Hollywood Casino Perryville in Cecil County; and Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Allegany County.

The state’s total losses from its share of the casino and lottery revenues this fiscal year could surpass $250 million, compared with prepandemic projections by the Board of Revenue Estimates, Medenica estimated last month.

Casino and lottery money plays a significant role in Maryland’s budget. Revenue from the two sources provided $1.3 billion to the state during the fiscal year ending June 30. Casinos generated most — $717.5 million — of that total.

While it’s not clear when the casinos will be allowed to reopen, Medenica said the commission is working with the casinos on new safety measures and cleaning protocols for whenever they do.

“The casinos are working hard on preparations,” he said. “One advantage is that they already have extensive surveillance and security measures in place, which gives them unique capabilities for monitoring their patrons’ adherence to social distancing and other safety protocols.”

Anyone struggling with gambling addiction can get help at mdgamblinghelp.org or by calling 1-800-GAMBLER.

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