As Maryland moves toward the day when sportsbooks are actually taking bets, some pieces are beginning to fall into place.
Here is what is known, or at least strongly suspected, about what the Maryland sports betting landscape will look like, and who will be the likely players.
Retail sport books, Online sports books
Regarding licenses, these are technically two separate groups of applicants although once the sports gambling picture comes together, for the average bettor, the line between the retail and online components of associated operations will likely be blurred.
In the early going, what’s important to know is that the expectation is that retail sportsbooks will be licensed and up-and-running before online betting is ready to go. Online sportsbooks will look to partner with retail sportsbooks, and some prospective retail sportsbooks already have obvious ties to an online operation.
The big question for an eager Maryland gambling audience is: When? When can they get their money down? Best answer is that some retail operators will be ready to go by or during the 2021 football season. Online may wait until 2022.
The onus is on a newly-appointed Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (the acronym “SWARC” is going to become familiar in the days ahead) to get the application process going. The state’s Lottery and Gaming Control Agency will also be under pressure to do its part in the licensing process.
The early advantage goes to the established casino operators for the simple reason that many of their key personnel and systems have already been vetted and approved because they are, in fact, operating casinos within the state.
There is a possibility that the state will want to approve at least the retail licenses for some ready-to-go casino applicants simultaneously to avoid giving an advantage to one casino over the others. There are dozens of other, smaller retail licenses available to businesses of various sizes. Those approvals could come individually.
The Players (so far)
Live! Casino & Hotel/Fanduel: One of the top two revenue casinos in the state located near the Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Maryland, Live! has loudly proclaimed it is ready with a fancy multi-million-dollar sports bar that’s rarin’ to go as a sportsbook. Its partner is FanDuel Sportsbook Maryland. The signs are already in place.
MGM National Harbor/BetMGM: Maryland’s other big revenue casino, sitting across the Potomac from Washington D.C., National Harbor has a built-in partner in BetMGM Sportsbook Maryland. They should be able to get a sportsbook running quickly.
Horseshoe Baltimore/William Hill: This Caesars Entertainment casino is just a Jason Tucker field goal removed from M&T Bank Stadium where the NFL Ravens play. Caesars owns William Hill, but there’s a possible sportsbook rebranding in the works to take on the “Caesars” name. The ‘Shoe has fallen behind in revenue compared to Live! and National Harbor, but one would think they could quickly put a sportsbook together.
Hollywood Casino Perryville/Barstool Sports: Penn National re-assumed control of the Hollywood Casino that was Maryland’s very first gambling hall when the state’s current-day casino industry started in 2010. The casino is not near a large population center, so it’s unclear what that might mean for a retail sportsbook in Perryville, but Barstool has been making noise online.
Riverboat on the Potomac/PointsBet: An oddly-placed business geographically, the Riverboat is docked at Colonial Beach, Virginia, but is technically in Maryland. It has OTB and Maryland lottery gambling and was the first small business to announce it had hooked up with an online partner, PointsBet Sportsbook Maryland, which was founded in Australia but has become an online sports wagering player in America.
Maryland State Fairgrounds: The Fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland, is already home to a Maryland Jockey Club OTB. In the early days of legislative hearings regarding sports gambling, Fairgrounds representatives expressed keen interest in having a sportsbook.
Ocean Downs Casinos: The smallish casino on the Eastern Shore is associated with TwinSpires Sportsbook Maryland Inc.
Rocky Gap Casino Resort: Another smallish casino, but in western Maryland, Rocky Gap is owned by Golden Entertainment in Las Vegas. Interestingly, Golden has had an association with William Hill.