Upstart Maryland Wagering Firm Lands Partnership with Malta-based GiG

Upstart Maryland Wagering Firm Lands Partnership with Malta-based GiG
By Bill Ordine
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

A nascent Maryland-focused sports wagering firm hoping to find a niche in the state’s online sports gambling industry has taken a step in that direction, signing a “head of terms agreement” with Gaming Innovation Group Inc. (GiG), for GiG to provide its platform and sportsbook solution in Maryland.

The Maryland company – colorfully named Crab Sports – is an aspiring sports wagering operator hoping to use its understanding of the local landscape to compete in the state’s sports gambling marketplace. So far the market has been limited to in-person betting but, in time, will also expand online.

The partnership between Crab Sports and Malta-based GiG is significant in that the latter company, dual-listed traded on the Oslo Stock Exchange (GIG) and Nasdaq Stockholm (GIGSEK), furnishes technological expertise and a turnkey solution with its CMS platform and recently acquired Sportnco Sportsbook.

Crab Sport contends its local focus will help it stand apart in a field that already has national retail players such as FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook, among others, with its understanding of the market. In doing so, the Crab Sports “team intends to build a compelling experience and brand that will resonate strongly with customers in Maryland,” according to a news release announcing the agreement with GiG.

It is expected that the full contract will be signed in the next few months and go live projected in the second half of 2022.

GiG Leadership Bullish on Partnership Potential

“I am delighted to have partnered with Crab Sports. We see great potential in the Crab Sports excellent team and local approach and we see great potential in Maryland,” Richard Brown, CEO of GiG, said in the news release. “We look forward to working closely with the Crab Sports team to maximize their potential through a successful launch. This is a proud moment for us and highlights the faith we have in the synergies between GiG and Sportnco. This type of deal is directly in our ‘wheelhouse’, helping challenger brands drive value and enter newly regulated markets, showcasing our product in the ‘soon to be’ open Maryland market.”

Crab Sports was founded in 2021. It describes itself as “a start-up mobile sportsbook operator.”

“The company’s vision is to give its customers in Maryland a differentiated, truly ‘local’ experience which offers them a compelling value proposition over and above the nationally recognized sportsbooks,” according to the news release. “Crab Sports’ distinctive branding, partnerships with local hero businesses, and 100% in-state operations, will ensure that it gives customers the best possible sports betting experience in the market.”

License Complications Still To Come

Among the challenges that Crab Sports faces as a Maryland sports betting app is the process for applying for and being awarded licenses in Maryland.

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission and the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission both have essential roles in the process. The state’s sports wagering law designated 17 entities that have an inside track for “facility” licenses, meaning retail sportsbooks, and there are an additional 30 competitive retail licenses that will be available. As far as mobile/online is concerned, there are potentially 60 of those licenses available, though no one expects anywhere near that number to be handed out.

So far, the application for the competitive retail licenses isn’t even available and the process for online applications is similarly slow-moving. Also still being developed is a diversity study/analysis that is key to implementing the state legislature’s emphatically-stated goal of substantial participation by minority- and women-owned businesses in the state’s sports wagering industry.

At the moment, retail sportsbooks are operating and taking bets in five casinos: Live! Casino & Hotel, MGM National Harbor, Horseshoe Baltimore, Hollywood Perryville and Ocean Downs Casino. Four small businesses (three off-track betting sites and a bingo facility) have been awarded licenses but aren’t taking wagers yet.

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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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