Caesars’ Maryland casino desperately seeking sports betting


caesars-horsehose-casino-baltimore-maryland-sports-bettingMaryland’s sports betting hopes took another small step forward this week, and at least one of the state’s casino operators could desperately use the new revenue stream.

On Tuesday, Maryland’s state Senate Budget and Taxation Committee unanimously approved the chamber’s SB4 sports betting legislation, paving the way for debate by the full Senate on Thursday and a likely vote by early next week. The bill would then require approval by the House of Delegates before the Assembly’s current session concludes on April 8.

Even if all that happens and Gov. Larry Hogan affixes his signature, state voters would have to approve the measure this November, along with a separate ballot question that would alleviate voters of the need to approve future gambling expansion efforts.

SB4’s list of potential betting licensees now includes the state’s six casinos, the Pimlico and Laurel racetracks, the State Fairgrounds in Timonium and the Washington Redskins’ proposed new stadium. Four off-track betting sites would be allowed to piggyback on the tracks’ license. The bill would also allow statewide digital wagering.

SB4 features a 20% tax on betting revenue – 25% for those OTBs – and a tiered license fee structure, with casinos boasting over 1k slots paying $2.5m upfront while venues with less than 1k slots would pay $1.5m. The two tracks would split one $2.5m license, the Redskins would pay $2.5m and the Fairgrounds would pay $1.5m.

At least one of the casinos could badly use the shot in the arm. Figures released Thursday by the Maryland Lottery & Gaming agency show statewide casino gaming revenue hitting $151.3m, up 10.6% from the same month last year and the highest total since last August.

For the second month in a row, five casinos reported year-on-year revenue gains, with Caesars Entertainment’s Horseshoe Casino Baltimore the lone decliner (again), falling 13.3% from the same month last year to a new all-time low of $17.9m. The Shoe’s decline was almost entirely based on its table game revenue falling more than one-quarter year-on-year.

As for the rest of the field, MGM Resorts’ National Harbor won the month as usual, rising 13.3% year-on-year to $61.1m, while Cordish Gaming’s Live! Casino & Hotel shot up nearly 19% to $54.76m. The rest finished as follows; Hollywood Perryville ($6.66m, +10.3%), Ocean Downs ($5.97m, +4.3%) and Rocky Gap ($4.85m, +11.4%).