As positive test rates for COVID-19 increase in Maryland, two casinos are now being forced to lower capacity rates from 50% to 25%. The MGM National Harbor and Live! Casino & Hotel are located in regions where restrictions have been heightened due to the virus threat.
Both casinos have operated at 50% capacity for quite some time, reopening in June after the first COVID-19 closure. MGM is located in Prince George County and Live! calls Anne Arundel County home. Both counties have reimplemented restrictions due to an increase in cases plus hospitalizations.
Starting on December 16 at 5pm Eastern Time, the counties will begin the new restrictions. Indoor dining and bar service must close completely. Casinos as well as retail facilities can stay open but must work at 25% capacity.
Angela Alsobrooks is the Prince George’s County Executive who stated that the area is going in the wrong direction and swift action needs to be taken. Steuart Pittman, an Anne Arundel County Executive commented as well, stating that the numbers need to be pushed down to protect the health care systems in the state.
Lower Revenues Hurting Education
Even though the virus has been an issue, the MGM National Harbor property has done well. In November, the casino reported $55.3 million in gross gaming revenues. Surprisingly, this is a 2.6% increase from the same month last year.
MGM Resorts actually provided over 42% of the total gross gaming revenues earned in November which was just over $130 million. Live! came in second with $45 million in earnings. Now that venues are limited even further, dropping down to 25% capacity, the revenues will decrease.
Funds from the casino are mainly used for the Maryland Education Trust Fund. This year, MGM has already provided almost $128 million towards education in the state. Live! has provided almost as much at $117 million.
If the case counts continue to rise in the state, we may see the casinos eventually shut back down. In Pennsylvania this week, the 12 casinos in operation were hit with a closure announcement. Again, this was attributed to the rise in coronavirus cases.
We may see Maryland go that route in individual counties or even within the full state in an effort to try and get a handle on the increase in COVID-19 cases. The infection rate in the state has increased more than 3x since November 1. The rate is now 45 residents per 100,000 instead of just 14.
Casinos located in the more rural areas, like Rocky Gap, Hollywood and Ocean Downs, are still operating currently at 50% capacity. This could change but the rates as of right now are lower in these areas. This is due to the population being more spread out than in the larger cities.
We shall keep an eye on operations and provide insight as to if the new restrictions are working or if players will soon be unable to go to casinos at all due to a continual increase in coronavirus cases.