Maryland Bill Aims at Ending State-Owned Slots

A bill in Maryland’s General Assembly aims to end the state’s role as the purchaser of slot machines for casinos, by offering tax incentives to the last two with state-owned slots (l. at Maryland Live!).

A joint bill in the Maryland General Assembly would give a 10 percent annual tax break to the two casinos for which the state owns the slot machines, in exchange for those casinos taking the responsibility for buying and maintaining the slots on themselves as of the start of 2018.

Maryland’s 2008 gaming law assigned the state the responsibility of purchasing and maintaining the slot machines. However, it also established one of the highest gaming revenue taxes in the nation. Over the years, the state has offered tax incentives to lower what was a 67 percent tax on slot revenue to casinos that have taken on the responsibility of purchasing and maintaining their slot machines.

Four of the state’s six casinos now purchase and maintain their own slot machines—including the new MGM National Harbor resort, which shaved 6 percent off its slot revenue tax in exchange for buying its own machines.

The state still owns the slot machines at Rocky Gap Casino Resort in and the Casino at Ocean Downs. The state pays around $14 million a year to buy and maintain the slots at the two properties.

The new bill would grant each of the two casinos a 10 percent break on the slot revenue tax in exchange for taking on ownership of the slots by the start of 2018. The bill also stipulates that if the casinos do not begin buying their own machines by 2020, they would be forced to begin doing so then, and the tax cut would only be 6 percent, the same granted to MGM, Horseshoe Baltimore and Hollywood Casino in Perryville. Maryland Live! in Hanover gets an 8 percent break for owning its slots.

The measure is pending before committees in both the House of Delegates and the state Senate.