Maryland In-Person Sports Betting Getting Closer, But Online Wagering Still Months Away

Maryland In-Person Sports Betting Getting Closer, But Online Wagering Still Months Away article feature image
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G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images. Pictured: The Maryland Terrapins mascot pumps up the crowd while waving the Maryland state flag.

Maryland’s long-stalled retail sports betting launch could finally have a go-live timeline.

A regulatory review committee could award up to five retail sportsbook licenses at its Nov. 3 meeting. The meeting was rescheduled from Oct. 14, further prolonging what has already been a drawn-out process.

If the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) awards licenses next week, any applicant would still have to pass final testing and certification, a process that could take several weeks. That would mean retail books could launch sometime in November.

Maryland’s online sports betting launch won’t likely come until the second half of 2022.

Sportsbook Details

The five potential licensees are all commercial casinos:

  • Horseshoe Casino Baltimore (partnered with Caesars)
  • Live! Casino Hotel Maryland (FanDuel)
  • MGM National Harbor (BetMGM)
  • Hollywood Casino Perryville (Barstool Sportsbook)
  • Ocean Downs Casino (TwinSpires)

The state’s other commercial casino, Rock Gap Casino Resort in Flintstone, can also apply for a retail sports betting license but is not scheduled to earn a license at the SWARC’s upcoming meeting.

These six casinos are part of a group of 17 entities specifically included in Maryland’s 2021 sports betting law for designated licenses classes. The other groups include:

  • The state’s three major professional sports venues: Oriole Park at Camden Yards; FedEx Field; and M&T Bank Stadium
  • The operator of the state’s two major horse tracks, Pimlico and Laurel Park, which is the Stronach Group
  • The state fairgrounds in Timonium
  • Seven additional off-track betting facilities, including Riverboat on the Potomac, which has already announced a sportsbook partnership with PointsBet.

Maryland’s 2021 sports betting law requires the 17 specifically mentioned licensees to earn approval from both the state Lottery and Gaming Commission as well as the SWARC while most other states only need sign-off from one regulatory body. This two-party certification, as well as meeting postponements from the SWARC, have further prolonged the retail opening.

The five casinos that could be licensed next week have all earned gaming commission approval. There’s no timeline for the other 12 eligible entities.

Background

The retail licensing process has been one of the nation’s lengthiest.

Arizona and Connecticut, which both approved sports betting around the same time as Maryland, have launched both retail and online sportsbooks. Other states to legalize wagering this year including Wyoming, which only permits mobile books, has gone live, while Louisiana could launch sportsbooks in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, as officials work toward a potential retail go-live date sometime next month, Maryland’s online sports betting launch won’t likely come until the second half of 2022.

The 17 aforementioned entities can apply for, but are not guaranteed, one of 60 online licenses permitted under the 2021 law. The SWARC will have final say on each awarded license and, by law, must consider minority and women-owned business participation, among a host of other criteria.

The SWARC can also award up to 30 retail licenses, which are subject to many of the same requirements as the mobile licenses. A vast array of Maryland businesses and organizations can apply for retail and/or online licenses.

Maryland could have the most sports betting licenses in the country, though it may be years until all are awarded (if ever).

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