Maryland Governor Shuts Down State’s Casinos to Quell COVID-19 Spread
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced on March 15 that the state’s entire casino industry will suspend operations in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadline for casinos to suspend all operations was set for midnight on March 16; they will remain closed until the state of emergency is rescinded by Gov. Hogan.
Maryland is now one of the 13 U.S. states to order casino closures, following the lead of Alabama, California, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Some states have fully suspended all casino operations, while some have opted to limit the crowd sizes in their venues.
Gov. Larry Hogan has acknowledged that the casino shutdown is an unprecedented response in a state with a robust casino industry, and may be seen as excessive and alarmist by some sectors. However, Gov. Hogan said, the safety of Maryland residents is paramount, which necessitates an abundance of caution from state authorities.
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There are six casinos in Maryland: Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Hollywood Casino Perryville, Rocky Gap Casino Resort, MGM National Harbor, Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover and Ocean Downs Casino. Also included in the casino shutdown are five racetracks and live simulcasting venues.
Maryland will likely not be the last state to institute statewide measures to prevent COVID-19 from gaining ground in their states and overwhelm their public health systems. Since March 15 dozens of casinos and other live events have been cancelled throughout the U.S.
Casino Shutdowns Likely to Continue in Near-Future
Some of the U.S.’s largest casino operators have been financially impacted by the recent rash of casino closures: Boyd Gaming Corp., Penn National, MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. It is fully expected that the closures will continue in the near-future.
According to a note directed to investors by the Deutsche Bank analyst for gaming Carlo Santarelli, both the public and private sector will likely converge on recommending shutdowns while the COVID-19 pandemic is in full swing.
Santarelli has admitted that the suspensions of casino operations will lead to massive financial losses to operators as well as local governments who rely on gaming taxes for revenue, but insisted that it is clear that shutdowns are necessary for the long-term health of the industry.
While the land based casino industry suffers, the online casino industry in the United States is expected to see an increase in activity!