A new era began as the first legal Maryland sports betting wager was placed Thursday afternoon at the MGM National Harbor Casino.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan placed the first retail sports betting wager just before 1 p.m. at the BetMGM Sportsbook at the facility, in Oxon Hill near Washington, D.C. Hogan bet on the Washington Football Team to win the NFC and the Baltimore Ravens to win the AFC. He didn’t say if it was a parlay or two separate bets:
Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) makes the first legal sports bet in his state, which became the 11th state to legalize sports betting in 2021:— The Recount (@therecount) December 9, 2021
“This is the Washington Redskins to win the NFC. Baltimore Ravens to win the AFC. So an all Maryland Super Bowl out in LA.” pic.twitter.com/a8cVLNy7eN
"Today marks the culmination of years of effort to get sports betting up and running here in the State of Maryland," Hogan said before the ceremony, according to a release from Maryland Lottery and Gaming. “In addition to allowing Marylanders to bet on the NFL, March Madness, and more, sports betting will also help to keep more dollars in-state and will provide another critical revenue source for public education without raising taxes on families and small businesses."
Two more retail sportsbooks are scheduled to get going Friday. The FanDuel Sportsbook is preparing to open operations at Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover, and the Caesars Sportsbook at Horseshoe Casino Baltimore is slated to take its first sports bets as well.
Mobile sports betting is not scheduled to begin until some time in 2022; the aim is for it to launch by fall, in time for next football season. NFL betting is the most popular form of sports wagering in the U.S. market.
Process for Retail Sports Betting
The MGM National Harbor location was a natural partner for the BetMGM Sportsbook, which has been operating in some of the biggest U.S. sports betting markets including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Arizona and more.
Before the BetMGM Sportsbook took that first bet on Thursday, Gov. Hogan was part of a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann also appeared and placed a bet.
Earlier in December, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission said five facilities had been approved to take sports bets after a testing and demonstration phase.
In addition to MGM, Live! and Horseshoe, other Maryland gaming establishments approved to take in-person sports wagers in the near future include Ocean Downs Casino in Berlin and Hollywood Casino Perryville.
Both the Lottery and the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission must approve any sports betting licenses in Maryland.
Two others – Long Shot’s in Frederick and Riverboat in the Potomac – obtained approval on Wednesday from SWARC.
Mobile Sports Betting Still a Ways Away
The process for making mobile sports wagering a reality has been fairly slow in a state where voters easily passed a measure legalizing the practice in November 2020.
The wait will go on for several more months, too.
While the sports betting markets in other states, such as Arizona, have launched in fairly quick time (Arizona started its mobile sports betting in September), Maryland is not. But at least retail sports betting has beaten some official projections that suggested it would not launch in Maryland until early 2022.
Casinos Could See Revenue Spike
The six commercial casinos in the state – the five approved for sports betting plus Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Flintstone – took in a combined $160.36 million in revenue for November. That was a 3.5% increase from October’s $155 million tally.
But the advent of in-person sports wagering, especially fairly early in December with several weeks of NFL betting season remaining, could well help set records for Maryland casino gaming soon.
The state set its record for single-month casino revenue in July, hitting $180.1 million. That was the third time in 2021 the state broke its record for casino revenue, having done so in March ($169.2 million) then again in May ($172.4 million).