August a Mixed Month for Maryland's Casinos - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

August a Mixed Month for Maryland’s Casinos

August was a mixed month for Maryland’s casino industry. The six privately owned casinos collectively recorded their fourth best-ever month last month, raking in a combined $154.3 million in revenue, whilst posting a 5.4% increase from the same time last year.

At first glance, the trend looks good for the six licensed casinos, combined revenue up from the $149.3 million recorded in July which was also an increase from the $142.9 million seen in June. However, it wasn’t a success story for all the casinos.

Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino in Decline?

In the month that saw Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino celebrate its fifth anniversary, figures released by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency last week revealed that the Horseshoe Baltimore’s monthly revenues fell to its lowest level since its opening. Last month, revenues from the casino’s slots and table games plunged to $18,284,122, down 13% from the same time in 2018. The problem for the Horseshoe is that August’s figures were no anomaly. There has been a poor revenue stream for the Russell Street Casino all year with June recording a particularly poor month as revenues then declined 19% from the same time last year.

Compare the disappointing figures from the Horsehoe to those of its competitors and a problem becomes apparent. MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County posted $62.4 million in revenues in August, a 7% increase from August 2018.  Also, Live! Casino and Hotel at Arundel Mills reported a 12.7% increase last month from the same time last year. The Ocean Downs Casino saw a 6.5% increase from last year and the Rocky Gap Casino Resort posted a 5.8% gain in revenues from August 2018. The Hollywood Casino Perryville joined the Horsehoe in reporting poor figures, down 2.7% on a yearly basis.

What’s Next for Maryland’s Casinos?

It is difficult to say what is going to happen to Maryland’s Casinos. The biggest challenge to Maryland’s brick-and-mortar casinos is not competition with each other, or indeed other state’s casinos; instead, it is the world of online casinos and online gambling.

Although Maryland’s gambling laws allow betting on horse racing, most other types of gambling, including online casinos are prohibited in the state. Since the introduction of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act in 2006, there have been some changes at a State level as to what is and is not allowed in the online gambling sphere. However, despite clarification from the US Justice Department in 2011 regarding the legality, online casinos are still very much a grey area, especially with payment methods.

A growing number of US citizens are turning to its neighboring Canada for online casinos. Whilst there are still grey areas with Canadian gambling laws, it is nothing like it is in the US. A quick perusal of the recommended online casinos in Canada will show that there no shortage of Canadian casinos that willingly accept and even court gamblers from the US. There are still hurdles to overcome for US gamblers using a Canadian casino online, mostly with deposit and withdrawal methods, but it is nothing like on the scale online casino players face within the US. With discussions and changes regarding online casino and gambling laws happening on an increasingly frequent basis, online casinos in Canada and elsewhere will remain a popular option for US citizens for the foreseeable future.

For Maryland’s casinos, the online challenges they face rest with State legislators. At the moment, Maryland is on the sidelines when it comes to online gambling. The next statewide election is not until the November 2020 presidential election, so until then Maryland residents will have to make the best of what they have got.  For Baltimore’s horseshoe casino, which has welcomed over 20 million visitors since its opening five years ago, new General Manager Randall Conroy, brought in last month has his work cut out to reverse the negative trend. New attractions including a gaming patio scheduled to open this fall, will help, but there is still a long way to go.

About the author

Ben Myers

Ben Myers is an experienced freelance journalist, writer, and nomad. Much-traveled, Ben originates from the UK, enjoys spending time with his family, trading the markets, the crypto world and soccer, although not necessarily in that order. Contact the author.

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