Expectations for a larger Maryland sports betting market happening quickly are being set lower with each monthly meeting of regulators and licensing bodies.
During the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission meeting Thursday, there was no mention of any new applications for retail sports wagering licenses. There was also no news of any of the businesses being awarded licenses by the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) and able to start accepting wagers.
At the same time, progress on online sports betting is stalled as the SWARC waits for what has been a long-delayed disparity analysis/study, whose completion is necessary before applications for online sports betting licenses can even be crafted.
There will be an educational summit for sports betting applicants in Maryland on May 6.
When SWARC commissioner Randy Marriner, who also is the chair of the Lottery & Gaming Control Commission, asked for a progress report on the study at the last SWARC meeting, David Stamper of the state Attorney General’s office avoided answering publicly and suggested sending a private email to Marriner and other commissioners. SWARC meets next on May 18.
So, in short, expansion of sports betting in Maryland has seemingly ground to a halt.
Lottery and Gaming Control Agency Director John Martin previously said he hoped that online sports betting could begin by the start of the 2022 NFL season. After Thursday’s meeting, that seems very unlikely.
Now it looks like launching any time during the NFL season will be a struggle.
Retail Sports Wagering Strong
As it stands, there is retail sports wagering at five of six Maryland casinos and during their monthly summaries to Lottery & Gaming commissioners, casino representatives uniformly reported brisk sports business in March because of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Four smaller businesses (three off-track vetting facilities and a bingo hall) have been awarded licenses but have not completed the processes to start taking bets.
Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover, which has been the leading retail sportsbook since Maryland launched retail sports betting in December, reported $1.4 million in revenue off of $13.3 million in handle for a hold of 10.5% in March. The casino has more than doubled its number of sports betting kiosks (now 61) since the sports betting started.
Horseshoe Baltimore Casino reported its sports betting win was more than $570,000 with a decent hold due to parlay betting. March was the first full month of operations for the Brews Brothers sports bar-restaurant attached to the sportsbook and revenues have increased each week as patrons have become familiar with the amenity.
All in all, the state’s five retail sportsbooks had a little more than $31 million in handle in March, while revenue for the month was almost $3.85 million.