The biggest event in Maryland last month was not the Preakness Stakes. Instead, it was great performance news from its new gaming sector.
Maryland casinos reported gross gaming revenue last month of $178.76 million. That is the second-best month on record. Maryland’s first casino opened in September 2010. Further, May 2022 represented a 3.7% improvement from May 2021. And overall, 17.4% better than the approximately $152.3 million the six commercial casinos won in pre-pandemic May 2019. In sum, the $178.7 million May 2022 win trails only July 2021, when the casinos pulled in a record $180 million from gamblers.
The industry momentum seems to threaten the July benchmark. With pandemic concerns easing and sports betting now live at five brick-and-mortar properties, the state’s current gaming market is positioned well for a successful summer.
Dominant Start for MGM, Live!
MGM National Harbor and Live Casino & Hotel Maryland maintain their market dominance in the Old Line State. The MGM Resorts casino outside DC won almost $76 million from its patrons last month. The gaming property kept $62.7 million of the bets wagered.
In May, the two casinos combined GGR of $138.7 million and accounted for almost 77% of the state market. Caesars Entertainment’s Horseshoe Baltimore was a distant third at $17.6 million.
Maryland’s three resort-style casinos — Ocean Downs in Berlin, Hollywood Casino Perryville, and Rocky Gap Resort — won the remaining $22.4 million.
May had a favorable year-over-year comparison, as the casinos remained limited to operating at 50% capacity during May 2021. However, the state and host cities allowed the gaming properties to return to work at their full fire code capacities by June.
By contrast, Horseshoe’s struggles continued in May ’22, as the Baltimore property saw GGR decline more than 9% from May 2021. Though MGM National Harbor and Live! are seeing visitor numbers increase as the summer months arrive, the downtown Baltimore casino’s location is in an undesirable part of Charm City. Meanwhile, Caesars is spending heavily to improve and revitalize the corridor between its Horseshoe property and the nearby NFL and MLB professional sports venues M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Sports Betting Growth Continues
Maryland sports betting went live at each casino sans Rocky Gap in December. But the expanded gaming isn’t expected to provide substantial gaming and associated tax revenue until online operations are permitted to begin.
The path to authorizing mobile sportsbooks in Maryland is complex because of the law’s minority requirement that allows certain small businesses to seek entry into the online wagering market. The Maryland Sports Wagering and Application Review Committee continues to await the results of its commissioned disparity study that will assist the agency in determining which applicants are awarded mobile sports betting privileges.
Maryland casinos are ready to commence their online sportsbooks once given the go-ahead. The gaming industry is pleading with state officials to allow operations to begin in time for the 2022-23 NFL season. But the odds of that happening lengthen with each passing day. The law trumps the casino’s wishes, SWARC officials say.