Maryland Workers Fear for Safety, Lawmakers Told

General managers of the six Maryland casinos testified before a video meeting of a state House committee that some employees will not return due to Covid-19 concerns. “There was fear and trepidation” among workers at Rocky Gap (l.) in Flintstone, said GM Skylar Dice.

The general managers of Maryland’s six casinos testified last week before a video meeting of the state House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee, telling lawmakers that while Maryland casinos are beginning to recover after a three-month closure, workers do not feel safe on the job.

Skylar Dice, general manager of the Rocky Gap Casino Resort in western Maryland, told the panel that some workers refused to return to work due to Covid-19 concerns. “There was fear and trepidation upon reopening, and not all of our team members want to come back to work,” Dice said.

“They just don’t feel comfortable working in the new conditions,” added Jorge Perez, president of MGM National Harbor near Washington, D.C.

Gordon Medenica, director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, told the lawmakers his agency was expecting a long-term dip in casino revenues. “To be probably brutally frank, I think we have to accept a long-term lowering of our expected casino contributions,” Medenica said, according to the Baltimore Sun. “The reality for the future is incredibly uncertain.”

Medenica did have more upbeat news for the committee members in the area of lottery sales, which he said are up more than 20 percent despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“We were still up even that first week in March, and then we just started seeing the bottom fall out,” he said. “Sales were going down 20 percent, 25 percent, 30 percent, and we really didn’t know where the bottom would be. Obviously we lost some of our retail base but also people weren’t going out, they weren’t driving, they weren’t visiting the gas stations.”

Medenica called the increase a “very strange phenomenon,” attributing it to a lack of other places to spend discretionary money.

“Our theory at this point is that there really is just no place for people to spend some discretionary entertainment dollars—there are no movies, there are no sports there are no concerts, there are no bars and restaurants,” he said.