Mobile sports betting in Maryland for Thanksgiving? it’s a safe bet

More than two years after Maryland voters approved a sports betting referendum, state officials finally seem ready to allow mobile betting.

The screens at BetMGM Sportsbook in National Harbor in December show odds on dozens of sporting events. (Maryland Matters/Bruce DePuyt)

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More than two years after Maryland voters approved a sports betting referendum, state officials finally seem ready to allow mobile betting. The Sports Betting App Review Commission announced Monday that it will consider 10 mobile betting apps at its meeting on Wednesday.

Any applicants who are approved, and who meet some final operational requirements, will be able to make their applications publicly available and accept bets online. No date has been set for that, though officials hope to be ready by Thanksgiving, when tens of millions of Americans will watch three NFL games.

The 10 candidates for balloting on Wednesday represent almost all of the big-name players.

Maryland voters approved sports betting by a 2-1 margin in 2020, but implementation has been stymied by implementation. Wanting to avoid a repeat of medical cannabis, where white entrepreneurs got all the licenses, state lawmakers crafted legislation in 2021 that sought to make Maryland’s sports betting industry more diverse.

Regulators have struggled to balance the goals of the General Assembly with the state’s desire to bring this popular and potentially lucrative pastime to light. In a statement Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) took credit for pushing regulators to speed up the process.

“To get to this point, we’ve had to overcome countless legal, political, and bureaucratic delays that threatened to delay the launch beyond next year’s Super Bowl,” he said. “It was completely unacceptable to me, and we spent months pushing for decisive action. Thanks to those efforts, and after repeated interventions by our management, we now anticipate the launch of mobile sports betting this month…”

Launch of face-to-face sports betting A year ago, with a handful of traditional sportsbooks opening inside casinos. The betting action level is expected to skyrocket when online operators get the go-ahead. In states that have both in-person and mobile betting, online action accounts for up to 90% of the drive.

Maryland Lottery & Gaming officials said they have been working closely with mobile operators and decided on a quick start in which the first wave of approved companies begin placing bets the same day. “It was just the right thing to do, not just for the players but also for our partners,” said John Martin, Maryland’s director of gaming and lottery. “It just made perfect sense to do it this way.”

The 10 to be considered Wednesday are among 21 companies that have submitted applications. Is it so:

  • Arundel Amusements (Bingo World)
  • BetMGM Maryland Sports
  • Online Game Crown MD (DraftKings)
  • CZR Maryland Mobile Opportunity (Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, in association with Caesars Sportsbook)
  • Green mount OTB
  • long shots
  • Maryland Stadium Sub (Washington Commanders)
  • PENN Maryland OSB (Hollywood Casino Perryville, in association with Barstool Sportsbook)
  • PPE Maryland Mobile (Live! Casino and Hotel, in association with FanDuel)
  • Riverboat on the Potomac

Although mobile betting is not yet legal, the biggest names in the industry have already poured millions of dollars into advertising, hoping to build brand awareness and loyalty. Reputable firms offer incentives to entice punters to download their app and place their initial bets.

By launching online betting now, the state is ready to capitalize on the second half of the NFL season and the playoffs, the culmination of the college football season and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in March.

Industry site estimates that more than $4 billion will be wagered on the state by 2023, a sum that would generate almost $75 million in tax revenue. Martin estimated that the likely boost to the state treasury would be closer to $30 million.

Home to three major league sports teams, Maryland is one of the wealthiest states in the nation. Analysts will be closely watching the launch of online betting here.

“We’re really excited about the potential that the Maryland market has,” Martin said. “From our lottery and gaming business, our traditional businesses, we performed very well and outperformed in many categories across the country. And that will continue, I trust, in the sports betting market”.

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