Casino Win In Maryland Falls For First Time Since November 2015 — Sports Betting To The Rescue?

For the first time in more than three years, the Maryland casino gaming market saw a month-over-month decline. Sportsbooks could help.

Maryland’s commercial casino gaming industry is doing just fine, but signs are pointing to the market settling. In other words, the previously red-hot state-level casino market is cooling off.

MGM’s flagship East Coast casino, MGM National Harbor, opened in December 2016, leading to huge growth for the state’s casino gaming market in 2017 and into 2018. The most recent casino to open prior to MGM National Harbor was Horseshoe Casino Baltimore in August 2014.

According to figures from regulators with the Maryland Lottery and Gaming agency, gaming revenue from the state’s six casinos was $152.27 mm in May, a decline of 2.7% from May 2018. According to data compiled by the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ Center for Gaming Research, the last and only other time the state saw a month experience a year-over-year decline was back in November 2015, when the market contracted about 0.5%. The state’s casino industry is less than nine years old.

“As Maryland’s casinos reach full development of their respective markets, we will begin to see more volatility in month-over-month results, as today’s report shows,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director Gordon Medenica said about May’s result. “We fully expect long-term growth to continue to be positive.”

MGM National Harbor’s gaming win of $59.12 mm was a 5.1% year-over-year drop, the first decline for the casino since it opened. Here’s a look at how the individual properties performed, according to regulators:

  • MGM National Harbor (3,136 slot machines, 199 table games)
    $59,122,476 in May 2019, a decrease of $3,177,971 (-5.1%) from May 2018.
  • Live! Casino & Hotel (3,818 slot machines, 197 table games)
    $53,498,401 in May 2019, an increase of $1,477,082 (2.8%) from May 2018.
  • Horseshoe Casino Baltimore (2,203 slot machines, 147 table games)
    $20,559,140 in May 2019, a decrease of $3,518,074 (-14.6%) from May 2018.
  • Hollywood Casino Perryville (822 slot machines, 21 table games)
    $6,912,664 in May 2019, an increase of $126,335 (1.9%) from May 2018.
  • Ocean Downs Casino (874 slot machines, 18 table games)
    $7,237,481 in May 2019, an increase of $804,891 (12.5%) from May 2018.
  • Rocky Gap Casino Resort (665 slot machines, 19 table games)
    $4,945,638 in May 2019, an increase of $7,943 (0.2%) from May 2018.

The casinos won $1.74 billion from gamblers across 2018, an increase of 8.18% over 2017.

Sports betting prospects

Maryland’s sports betting ambitions in 2019 were dead come early April. There are some lingering questions in Maryland with regard to whether sports betting authorization would need to be put up to voters, according to Sports Handle. The state did consider a piece of legislation this year.

“We made some progress, but right now, the general feeling is that there is some debate if this particular expansion of gambling has to be done through a constitutional amendment,” Delegate Eric Ebersole, a Democrat who sponsored the sports betting bill, told Sports Handle about two months ago. “The answer is we’re not getting an answer. The [state] attorney general doesn’t have an answer.”

Maryland officials were cognizant of the need to regulate online/mobile sports betting, should it decide to move forward on the activity. It appears unlikely Maryland would do retail-only.

Maryland will be one of the states to watch in 2020 in terms of sports betting legislation. The aforementioned gaming revenue decline in May points to a relatively lackluster year for the state’s casino market (it grew a whopping 34% in 2017), which could provide even more momentum for policymakers to sort out how to legalize the activity for the existing gaming facilities.


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