August was not a good month for Horseshoe Baltimore. Since it launched five years ago, the gambling venue recorded its worst month ever, taking in only $18.2 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR). Recently Caesars announced a management renovation for the city casino, with administrative Randall Conroy coming in as general manager to oversee the casino’s debut of new attractions, headlined by an outdoor gaming patio slated to open in the coming weeks. The goal is to create a more welcoming corridor for pedestrians to move to and from the casino.
Horseshoe’s weak performance is not indicative of the overall state of gambling affairs in Maryland. The six casinos collectively reported GGR of $154.3 million, a 5.4 percent year-over-year increase. MGM National Harbor again led the way, the integrated casino resort located outside DC accounting for roughly 40 percent of the market with win at $62.4 million. That’s a seven percent gain for the property.
The GGR failure represents a 13% drop from August 2018. Horseshoe Baltimore has had to fight competition from MGM National Harbor and Live! Casino for years and is pulling out all the stops to try to turn things around. The outdoor gaming venue, which is still under construction, is just a start, and a new General Manager, Randall Conroy, is now in place to sustain the rollout of a string of new activity.
The casino saw GGR of $53 million for a solid second, almost three times that of the $18.2 million Horseshoe picked up. The remaining three venues, Ocean Downs, Rocky Gap and Hollywood, enjoyed a combined $20.5 million. The first two saw their GGR increase 6.5% and 5.8%, respectively, while the latter had to settle for a 2.7% drop.
Between all the sites, Maryland’s wallet picked up $66.3 million. That proved especially beneficial for education programs in the state, as $47.4 million of the total is destined for the Maryland Education Trust Fund.
Despite the ongoing struggles of Horseshoe Baltimore, the rest of Maryland’s gaming industry is doing just fine. In fact, August was the state’s fourth-best month on record.
Live! won a little more than $53 million – a 12.7 percent premium. Horseshoe was a distant third at $18.2 million.
Maryland’s three smaller resort casinos – Ocean Downs, Hollywood, and Rocky Gap – jointly won $20.5 million. Ocean and Rocky Gap respectively reported 6.5 percent and 5.8 percent increases on August 2018. Hollywood was down 2.7 percent.
The state’s take of the GGR was $66.3 million, of which $47.4 million went to the Maryland Education Trust Fund.
Twelve states have joined Nevada in getting sports betting operational in the wake of the May 2018 decision by the US Supreme Court that the federal prohibition violated interpretations of the Constitution. It is losing the race to launch sports gambling in the area, with Washington, DC, West Virginia and others already getting the ball rolling. It hasn’t been as easy for Maryland to dive in, with the ability to introduce sportsbooks only possible through a public vote. State lawmakers say they’re concerned whether they have the authorization to legalize sports betting. “We’ll have to do a referendum,” Delegate Eric Ebersole (D-Baltimore and Howard counties) opined earlier this year.
Since this is an unusual year for the state, it won’t be able to put the subject to a vote by residents until November of next year, which means sports gambling won’t be coming until at least 2021, if it receives enough support during the 2021 elections. For the 2019-20 NFL season, Maryland will remain on the sidelines when it comes to sports betting.