Maryland could take a $250 million hit because its revenue from casinos and lottery games has plummeted due to the coronavirus, lottery and gaming director Gordon Medenica said Thursday.
Medenica also said state casinos “are working on incredibly detailed procedures” for reopening, although no date has been set. The six casinos were ordered closed on March 16 as part of a series of mandates by Gov. Larry Hogan to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Casino and lottery money is important to Maryland’s budget. Revenue from the two sources amounted to $1.3 billion for the state during the fiscal year ending last June 30. Casinos generated the largest chunk — $717.5 million, according to the state.
But the forecasts look very different this fiscal year.
“If this situation with casinos being closed continues to the end of the fiscal year — end of June — we could be down over $200 million in contributions to the state” compared to earlier gaming agency estimates, Medenica said. “Year-to-date we’re down about $66 million, so if we’re closed for another two months it becomes even more dire.”
Medenica’s remarks came during an online meeting of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission. The agency’s revenue forecasts had been based on pre-pandemic projections by the Board of Revenue Estimates.
The state’s share of casino revenue supports its education trust fund as well as horse racing and grant funds for the communities around the casinos.
Revenue from lottery games also has dipped because of store closures — including restaurants — and other factors related to the pandemic.
State lottery profits are currently down $20 million compared to the same period last year, and could end up being $50 million short of forecasts when the fiscal year ends, Medenica said.
Breaking News Alerts Newsletter
As it happens
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.
Medenica cautioned that the forecasts were only rough estimates.
Maryland has six casinos: MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Live Casino & Hotel in Hanover, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Hollywood Casino in Perryville, Rocky Gap in Cumberland and Ocean Downs near Ocean City.
While no timetable has been established for reopening, Medenica said: “We’ve been working on procedures for casinos to reopen. We have presented some technical specs for reopening casino floors.”
While it was premature to provide details, he said the state and the casinos “were dealing with a number of issues on social distancing and testing and many things like that.”