Maryland casinos enjoyed their best year ever in 2021. And the six commercial gaming properties hope to only improve on the record-setting performance this year now that sports betting is officially live.
Gross gaming revenue (GGR) in 2021 totaled $1.922 billion for the six casinos. Last year’s haul easily bested the state gaming industry’s previous all-time best revenue mark of $1.76 billion set in 2019.
Despite ongoing COVID-19 concerns, Maryland casinos benefited from pent-up demand for entertainment and personal freedom not experienced since the 1920s. Casino executives and industry stakeholders hope 2021 was the kickoff of a second “Roaring 20s.”
MGM National Harbor led the way in 2021 with GGR of approximately $769.8 million. Live! Casino & Hotel was next at $692.2 million. The two dominant casinos combined to account for $1.46 billion, or 76 percent, of the total gaming revenue.
Horseshoe Baltimore won $208.9 million. The state’s three smaller resort-style casinos — Hollywood Perryville, Ocean Downs, and Rocky Gay — combined to win the remaining $252 million.
Maryland casinos concluded the year with another strong performance, as December GGR totaled $172.9 million. MGM again was the top earner at $74.5 million, and Live! — which claimed the top spot in October for only the second time since MGM National Harbor opened in December of 2016 — was in its typical second-place position at $62.5 million.
The combination of the holiday season and the launch of sports wagering at five of the casinos during December led to great results,” said Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin. “We congratulate our casino partners for their ongoing success.”
Maryland casinos set several records in 2021. The state gaming industry in July posted its best monthly GGR performance in history when casino revenue topped $180.1 million. July was the third time in five months that a new monthly GGR record was set.
Casino gaming in Maryland benefits public education. In 2021, slot machines contributed nearly half of a billion dollars ($498.1 million) to the Maryland Education Trust Fund. Table games added another $93.4 million.
Sports Betting Arrives
2021 was a banner year for Maryland casinos. The arrival of sports betting only adds to the 2022 enthusiasm and revenue momentum.
The first legal sports bet in Maryland was wagered on December 9 at MGM National Harbor. Four additional retail casino sportsbooks have since opened.
December handle, or the amount bet, totaled $16.5 million. Of the action, oddsmakers kept $3.17 million on a 19 percent hold. Sports betting revenue generated nearly $470,000 for the education trust.
Sportsbook handle and revenue will increase substantially as the industry is permitted to debut their mobile wagering apps. In addition to sportsbook privileges for the casinos, horse racetracks, professional sports venues, and the State Fairgrounds, Maryland’s vast sports betting law authorizes up to 60 mobile sportsbook licenses.
State gaming regulators are currently deciding how mobile sports betting will operate. Online sports betting is expected to go live in the second half of this year.
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