Maryland governor orders casino shutdowns; 13 states now with casino closures Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · March 16, 2020 at 6:27 am Maryland became the latest state to force a shutdown of its casino industry over the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus when Governor Larry Hogan issued an emergency order Sunday morning. Including Maryland, 13 states – Nevada, Michigan, New Mexico, California, Alabama, Rhode Island, Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York – have now taken actions to either suspended casino operations or place limitations on crowd size in places where it is, to this point, financially prohibitive to remain open. In Nevada, Wynn Resorts announced late Sunday it would close Wynn Las Vegas and Encore voluntarily for two weeks, becoming the first company to shut down casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. In California, Michigan and New Mexico, tribal leaders have independently decided to close their casinos. On Sunday, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians voluntarily closed the Wind Creek Bethlehem in Pennsylvania and the tribe’s two properties in Alabama, Wind Creek Atmore and Wind Creek Montgomery. “This situation continues to evolve and will escalate rapidly and dramatically,” Hogan said in a statement posted to the governor’s website. “These are unprecedented actions in an extraordinary situation, but they could be the difference in saving lives and keeping people safe.” The casinos were ordered to close by midnight Monday, and the shutdown will remain in effect until Maryland’s state of emergency has been lifted. Maryland has six casinos: MGM National Harbor, near Washington D.C; Horseshoe Casino Baltimore; Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover; Hollywood Casino Perryville; Ocean Downs Casino; and Rocky Gap Casino Resort. Five racetracks and live simulcasting facilities were included in the closure. The move by Maryland follows the actions in other states, where many facilities began closing on Sunday. In a note to investors Sunday, Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Carlo Santarelli said, “We fully expect to continue to see both state-ordered and operator dictated closures in the coming days.” Santarelli said the closures will have an economic impact on the respective communities. “These are large scale employers and, in many states, are considerable contributors to the state budget,” Santarelli said. “Accordingly, we believe these socially responsible decisions to close them for a period will not be forgotten.” The closures are hitting some of the gaming industry’s largest casino operators. Boyd Gaming Corp. The Las Vegas-based regional casino operator said five of its properties in four states will be closed by Monday. Boyd operates 29 casinos in 10 states. Belterra Park in Cincinnati and Valley Forge Casino outside Philadelphia closed Friday, and Pair-A-Dice hotel-casino in East Peoria, Illinois will close Monday, as will the Belterra Resort and Blue Chip Hotel Casino in Indiana. “There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at any Boyd Gaming property,” the company said in a statement. “All closures are due solely to state mandates aimed at preventing the spread of the disease. All other Boyd Gaming properties remain in operation at this time.” A company spokesman said workers at all of Boyd’s casinos that have been closed by concerns over the virus would be paid during the shutdowns. Penn National Penn National Gaming, currently the nation’s largest regional casino company with 41 properties in 19 states, is temporarily closing 12 gaming properties. Late Saturday, the company said it would temporarily suspend operations at Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg and Ameristar East Chicago following an order from the Indiana Gaming Commission. Penn also operates Hollywood Casino Perryville in Maryland. Other Penn properties shelved include Hollywood Casino Columbus, Hollywood Casino Toledo, Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway and Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course in Ohio; Argosy Casino Alton, Hollywood Casino Joliet, and Hollywood Casino Aurora in Illinois; and Plainridge Park in Massachusetts. Penn National CEO Jay Snowden said in a statement the company would pay employees their full wages and benefits through the end of March. MGM Resorts International The closure of MGM National Harbor – Maryland’s largest casino in terms of gaming revenue – marked the company’s fourth regional property to shut down due to the coronavirus. “The health and well-being of our employees and guests are our most important priority. We will work hard to mitigate the impact this will have on our employees and communities,” MGM President Bill Hornbuckle said Sunday. “We will reopen as soon as it is appropriate and safe to do so.” Friday night, MGM Resorts announced it was closing MGM Northfield in Ohio, which is just outside Cleveland. MGM Resorts said early Saturday morning that it was closing the Empire City Casino outside New York City through March 28. Last week, the company closed the adjacent Yonkers Raceway after John Brennan, a worker with the Standardbred Owners Association, contracted the virus and subsequently passed away. The 69-year-old Brennan was the state’s first death from COVID-19. On Saturday, MGM Springfield in Massachusetts was ordered closed as part of a statewide gaming shut down by the state’s Gaming Commission. Caesars Entertainment Caesars Entertainment said Friday it would close Harrah’s Philadelphia due to a directive by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, who ordered the closure of all public schools, entertainment venues and community centers due to local cases of coronavirus. In a statement, the racetrack casino said there were no reported cases of COVID-19 at the property. “However, for the health and safety of our team members and guests, the casino and racetrack will close to the public beginning (Saturday),” the company said. Caesars also operates Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Harrah’s Joliet and Harrah’s Metropolis in Illinois, and three casinos in Indiana – Caesars Southern Indiana, Harrah’s Hoosier Park, and Horseshoe Hammond. The company has not commented on the additional closures. However, in a statement Sunday, Caesars said it was suspending performances of “all ticketed live entertainment held in Caesars Entertainment venues company-wide” starting Sunday. Refunds and exchanges for affected dates are available at the point of purchase. Poarch Band of Creek Indians The tribe announced it was closing its three casinos in two states. Wind Creek Atmore and Wind Creek Montgomery will be closed through May 30. Wind Creek Bethlehem will close until March 29. Poarch Creek said employees at all the properties will be paid during the closures. While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at Wind Creek Atmore or Wind Creek Montgomery, we believe that it is a matter of time until cases are identified,” the tribe said in a statement concerning the Alabama properties. “While business is important, the health of our employees, guests, and communities is most important.” Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.