BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Casinos are back open in Maryland, and a new report shows just how big an impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on revenue.
The report released by state gaming and lottery officials showed Maryland’s six casinos generated nearly $35 million and contributed more than $14 million to the state’s coffers, far less than the $143 million in revenue and $60 million sent to the state last year.
Casinos began reopening nearly a month ago at 50 percent capacity; since then, visitors and employees have been adjusting to the new normal.
“We think it’s important first of all to focus on safety first and then allow the casinos to reopen gradually,” Gordon Medenica, the director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said.
A number of safety protocols have been put in place since casinos reopened, including social distancing on gaming floors, temperature screenings and face mask requirements.
When compared to the previous fiscal year, casino revenue declined by more than 27 percent.
“We feel that probably this year, particularly because of the casino’s shut down, we’ll probably be something like $190 million less than we were last year where we did about ($1.3 billion) in total aid to the state of Maryland,” Medenica said.
He estimated this fiscal year’s total will be closer to $1.1 billion.
It remains unclear when casinos might see a complete return to business, but Medenica said gaming officials are looking at a number of initiatives.
“We hope sports betting, for example, will be coming by year-end when the referendum takes place,” he said.
For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.