Where does Maryland stand for mobile sports betting five months after retail went live
Online sports betting in Maryland still looks like a faraway reality as the recent meeting with regulators, and licensing bodies continues to show no progress. In fact, the much-anticipated launch before the NFL season seems almost impossible.
During a recent meeting, plans for increasing retail sportsbooks were mentioned, and the commission announced that two retail sportsbooks had been awarded licenses. These include Riverboat on Potomac near Colonial Beach. The other retailer is Greenmount Station OTB in Hampstead. According to the gaming commission, both sportsbooks are under construction while also trying to sort out controls and responsible gaming controls before they can start accepting wagers.
Nonetheless, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) did not announce businesses that have already been issued with online wagering licenses and commenced operations.
This is mainly because there has been delayed disparity analysis, whose data is relevant for the launch of online sports betting in the state. The disparity analysis is necessary because of the equal participation required by minorities and women-owned businesses. However, there seems to be no data, hence causing a major drag.
Retail sports wagering
As of now, retail sports wagering remains strong in the state. Five of the six casinos are operational and have reported increased revenues due to the NCAA Basketball Tournament. However, Rocky Gap Casino Resort is yet to start offering bets despite holding a valid license. In total, all five retail sportsbooks reported $3.85 million in revenue and $31 million in handle for the month of March.
For the month of March, Live Casino & Hotel reported revenue amounting to $1.4 million from a handle of $13.3 million. In addition, the casino has also reported an increase in the number of its kiosks. This was a lead as Live Casino & Hotel strives to maintain the top slot in retail sports betting in Maryland.
On the other hand, Horseshoe Baltimore Casino reported figures above $570,000 due to parlay betting. This comes as Brew Brothers sports bar and restaurant finished its first full month of operation. The establishment is an enhancement for Horseshoe Baltimore Casino.
Away from sports betting, MGM National Harbour reported the casino’s biggest jackpot win on its table games. The historic $3million was awarded to a player who won in face-up Pai Gow Poker.
Additionally, the state awarded four new small businesses with licenses, and these include three off-track vetting facilities and a bingo hall. The businesses have not started taking wagers as they are yet to complete the process.
Educational summit date set
Details of the upcoming sports wagering educational forum were discussed by a consultant of SWARC. The forum is aimed at helping prospective applicants for the Maryland sports betting licenses. The educational summit will kick off at 9.00 a.m. and end at 12 noon on May 6. The venue will be at Montgomery Park Business Center Auditorium in Baltimore.
On the agenda of the educational outreach will be a few items and different panels of specialists. The cost of running an online and retail sportsbook is one of the agendas. This panel will be operators who already have experience running these operations in Maryland and neighboring jurisdictions.
The second panel will include lawyers who are experienced in matters of gaming and have practiced before. This team will enlighten prospective business owners on regulatory issues and the licensing process.
For business owners who plan to attend, registration is available on SWARC.org.
Sports wagering assistance fund
Despite the slow progress with licensing of online casinos, SWARC is working on some interesting programs to help business owners. One such program is the sports wagering assistance fund that is aimed at helping business owners financially. The program is one of a kind, as Maryland is the only state with such a program. There are four components to this program, namely;
- Application assistance
This amounts up to $10,000 and will be issued to help businesses with the application process. For instance, these funds could help pay for a consultation attorney.
- Reimbursement of licensing fees and background checks amounting to $25,000.
- Operational costs $50,000
To help business owners with operational costs that come with sports wagering, such as IT support.
- Training assistance is $50,000.
This grant will help operators who are new in the sports wagering industry.
So far, the commission has approved three grants. The first recipient will be Riverboat which will receive help with operational costs. Long Shot OTB is the second recipient to take advantage of the application assistance and licensing reimbursement fund. This will be issued once the governor signs off on the state’s budget.
What to expect
When the go-ahead is given to commence online sports betting, Marylanders can expect variety. In addition, the expansion of retail sports betting will see 40 retail licenses awarded. These will be broken down into Class A and Class B statuses.
Class A will be reserved for established casinos, horse tracks and professional teams and will be 10. On the other hand, Class B will be reserved for retail stores in the state looking to get into sports wagering. The Maryland State Fairgrounds will also be entitled to the class B licenses. Class B licenses will be 30 in number.
For mobile sports betting, the number of operators is expected to be 60. Retail sportsbooks can also apply for this license. Maryland has one of the most progressive laws that is aimed at ensuring the participation of minorities and women. Despite this also being a major contributor to the slowed progress, the wait is worthwhile.
However, in comparison to other states, we can already foresee which major operators in the industry will go live in Maryland. This is because they have the necessary financial capabilities. As much as the state has put up an assistance fund, iconic operators will definitely feature here.
These include operators such as Twinspires, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook Maryland and FanDuel. These are undoubtedly among the likely online operators with retail sportsbooks already in full swing and raking huge profits.
Josh CampbellLead Writer
Journalist based in MD. Huge sports fan and intrigued by the US movement toward legal sports betting. I count myself among fans of legal sports gambling in Maryland.