Maryland Governor Larry Hogan confirmed on Wednesday, June 10, that more businesses would be allowed to reopen, including the state’s six casinos.
Governor Gives Green Light for Return of Casino Business in Maryland
Maryland is stepping its efforts to ease up restrictions and restart more businesses. Hit by the COVID-19 outbreak since mid-March, casinos will finally have a chance to restart operations, Gov. Larry Hogan said on Wednesday. The reopening date has been set for June 19 when casinos, malls, and arcades will be allowed to proceed with a restart.
The lifting of restrictions will also allow indoor gyms and indoor dining venues to start offering their services again. The governor went into some detail for each facility, cautioning that all will have to comply with social distancing measures and other health protocols.
All protective measures will be rolled out at casinos, Gov. Hogan confirmed. He reminded citizens that the fight against the virus is “far from over,” and urged for compliance with authorities to help tackle the spread of the pandemic.
Casinos will reopen in a state of high-alertness with a number of contingencies attached. Meanwhile, the governor will focus on setting up testing sites across Baltimore to ensure the quick testing of potential sick individuals and their subsequent isolation.
Gov. Hogan urged anyone who has attended protests to request a quick COVID-19 test as their chances of having been infected were high.
Enacting Phase Two of “Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery”
With a conditional go-ahead, casinos are now awaiting further instructions before they can restart. MGM National Harbor is one of the first properties with recovery and reopening plans, but to proceed, the company would need further guidance.
While confirming that reopening is about to begin on Wednesday, Hogan gave no exact date when this would happen, and particularly in the case of casinos. MGM has already had success in reopening other properties, including a fleet of its properties in Las Vegas.
Last week, three casinos restarted in Las Vegas, and now joining them are the Bellagio, MGM Grand Las Vegas, New York-New York, and The Signature at MGM Grand.
Maryland has already felt the burn of lost revenue due to the lack of casinos. The total revenue for the 2020 fiscal year across the state’s six casinos is down $372.5 million this year, which will negatively impact the state’s purse.
Estimated 22.5% of the gambling revenue goes directly to the Education Trust Fund, which could mean that cash-strapped lawmakers may have to look elsewhere for revenue or hope that the pent-up demand for casino-styled games will drive demand in the second half of 2020.
Maryland’s casinos generated $1.235 billion through the first 11 months of fiscal 2020, or down 23% year-over-year. However, for the demand to be fulfilled, casinos will need to be able to host everyone interested. This may not be very likely as properties will most likely have to comply with capacity reduction limiting them at 25% or 50% occupancy.