Maryland’s Strange Sports Betting Launch, Explained
Stacy Revere/Getty Images. Pictured: Maryland football helmet
- Maryland sports betting went live on Monday, is dark Tuesday, and will relaunch Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET.
- Seven sportsbooks are expected to go live on Wednesday, with three more approved for the coming months and possibly a dozen more live by next football season.
Maryland sports bettors got a taste of legal betting on Monday evening before a planned dark period began at 10 p.m. ET.
Betting was only live from Monday at 2 p.m. ET until 10 pm. ET in a “soft launch” period. It’s a pretty unusual move that no state has really tried when launching legalized betting.
Regulators then announced full betting would launch Wedneday at 9 a.m. ET.
The best explanation for this soft launch is that the Maryland State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency wants to test the seven approved sportsbooks to make sure everything works and all measures are in place before they go fully live with no restrictions on Wednesday.
Here’s the timeline of Monday-Wednesday for Maryland bettors:
- The books are expected to be live on Monday at 2 p.m. ET (FanDuel, BetMGM, DraftKings, Barstool, BetRivers, Caesars and PointsBet).
- Full betting will be available from 2-10 p.m. ET at those books.
- These books will then go offline at 10 p.m. ET on Monday, and relaunch at an unspecified time on Wednesday, assuming everything works.
- Between Monday and Wednesday, all functionality besides actually placing bets will be available — so you can withdraw money, deposit, etc.
By our count, Maryland is the first state to ever do something like this. There have been “soft launches” by specific books as they gear up to launch in a new state, but entire states usually don’t open up betting to approved books, then completely turn it off for 1-2 days.
Maryland has already had one of the longest go-live periods in U.S. sports betting history after legalizing during the 2020 election. Most states go live within 6-12 months, and at most 18 months because they need to draft regulations, approve books, etc.
Why Is Maryland Launching Monday, then Going Offline?
Our understanding is that the Maryland State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency wants sportsbooks to prove they have all their ducks in a row before allowing them to launch with no restrictions on Wednesday.
What Are the Best Offers Available?
There are three primary offers available during this soft launch period. Some books are not promoting new offers until Wednesday when Maryland officially goes live.
- BetMGM: Use bonus code ACTION to get $1,000 first-bet insurance.
- FanDuel: Use this link for a bet $5, get $200 in free bets offer (ends Dec. 18)
- Caesars: Use code ACTION4PICS to get $100 in free bets (ending TBD)
- PointsBet: Use this link to get $200 in free bets (ends Wednesday)
Which Books Will Be Available?
On Monday, we expect seven books to be live for that eight-hour stretch, though it’s no guarantee.
These books have been approved by regulators, so it would make sense that they need to be tested by the state’s gaming department to make sure they work.
- Barstool Sportsbook
Four other books have already been awarded licenses, but won’t launch right away. That includes BetFred, BetFanatics (which hasn’t launched anywhere yet) and BetParx.
What Other Books Will Come to Maryland?
Maryland’s sports betting bill approved after voters opted to legalize in the 2020 election directs the SWARC to award up to 30 additional retail and 60 online sportsbooks to state businesses.
Though Maryland will license as many as 60 statewide mobile sportsbooks, it’s likely the state never gets there. New Jersey is one of the most operator-friendly states and it isn’t close to that limit.
State lawmakers have created two licenses that operators can apply for:
- Class A license: 17 Class A licenses are given to six casinos, three professional sports teams, and other retail locations throughout the state.
- Class B license: 30 licenses will be given to additional retail locations such as gas stations, facilities with gaming kiosks, etc.