Cordish Laments Pace of Maryland Online Betting Process as Live! Celebrates 10 Years

Cordish Laments Pace of Maryland Online Betting Process as Live! Celebrates 10 Years
By Bill Ordine
Fact Checked by Ron Fritz

In the seemingly interminable crawl toward online Maryland sports gambling, don’t count Live! Casino and Hotel owner David Cordish an optimist.

After a celebration of his Maryland casino’s 10-year anniversary at the facility’s event center on Monday, Cordish discussed the future of online gaming, and especially Maryland sports gambling.

“It’s so far in the future, I don’t even think about it,” said Cordish, head of the Maryland-based international development company whose portfolio includes gaming operations in several states as well as dining, entertainment and retail centers in conjunction with major sports franchises in places such as Philadelphia, St. Louis, Atlanta, Arlington, Texas, and elsewhere.

“The state of Maryland in its wisdom,” Cordish said, has crafted a sports wagering law unlike anything else in the 30-some jurisdictions that also have sports wagering and that has been so difficult to implement that “it’ll be years, maybe generations” before Maryland betting apps will be up-and-running.

The Maryland sports gambling law emphasizes that minority- and women-owned businesses with substantial equity interest be included in the state’s sports wagering industry. 

Waiting on Disparity Study

Currently, a disparity study/analysis has been commissioned that presumably will guide state commissions in producing a license application and will guide licensing bodies in awarding sports wagering licenses, both competitive retail licenses and online licenses.

While Cordish’s note of the process being “generations” in the making may be hyperbole, to say the going has been slow is also an understatement. The pace has been glacial.

Cordish’s Live! Casino & Hotel, with an attractive and lively FanDuel Sportsbook, is the highest grossing of the five operating retail sportsbooks in the state. In fact, in May, Live! took about 48% of all legal sports bets in the state.

As part of the anniversary festivities at Live!, among the comments made regarding the casino’s contributions over the last decade was a reminder that minority contractors received more than 50% of the work in building the facility, and that it is the company’s standard elsewhere in the country to have 25% of its work done by minority contractors.

Expansion in the Works?

As far as the state’s emphasis on minority participation in online wagering, Cordish said, “Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.”

Cordish’s strongly implied point was that ambiguity on what the law would mandate has the progress of online at a standstill.

So, Cordish said, “I’m going to play the hand I was dealt.”

Turning to the world of bricks-and-mortar development, Cordish teased expansion plans for his casino in Hanover, Maryland, which sits near the Arundel Mills shopping mall.

Cordish pointed out that he has a vast surface parking lot available to him (the casino also has an indoor parking garage) and that it was the perfect palette for a development creation he referred to as “a village.”

Evolution of Live! Casino

The developer said the Live! casino could serve as a centerpiece of such a village much like sports stadiums do in other places where those concepts have emerged. In those instances, retail entertainment, hotels, office buildings and residential buildings have been assembled around the anchor attraction. Indeed, Cordish has already created entertainment and dining concepts in conjunction with sports facilities in other parts of the country.

As it has evolved, the Maryland casino has served purposes beyond simply being a gambling hall. The 5,000-seat event center, known as the HALL, has propelled Live! into being a premiere regional entertainment attraction (comedian Dave Chapelle appears June 18-19), and it has become a community asset as the setting for Anne Arundel high school graduations.

Since opening 10 years ago, the casino has generated more than $2.6 billion in tax revenue with much of it going toward the state’s Education Trust Fund. Casino revenues also support local public service non-profits and even the horse racing industry, plus the casino helps support local vendors, including minority- and women-owned firms.

Also, as part of its 10th anniversary celebration, Live! Casino & Hotel presented a $1 million scholarship over 10 years to Anne Arundel County Community College for students looking to pursue studies related to gaming, hospitality and other areas related to the casino industry. The community college has helped train thousands of students in gaming skill areas who have gone on to work at Live! and other casinos.

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A longtime reporter and editor who began writing on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened, Bill covered the world Series of Poker and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for a decade.

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