Maryland’s Retail Sportsbooks Remain the Only Game in Town

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Legal sports betting in Maryland went live in December of 2021. However, legal bets could only be placed in retail sportsbooks located in land-based Maryland casinos. The process to bring legal online sports betting to the state remains a work in progress.

The effort to legalize sports betting in Maryland dates back to November’s general election in 2020. Through the use of a voter referendum on the ballot, it was formally approved. State legislators passed the necessary legislation in April of 2021, and Governor Larry Hogan signed that bill into law.

The regulatory process to bring the state’s sports betting industry to market has not gone as nearly as smooth. Special provisions were put into place to expedite licensing for retail sportsbooks. Yet, the addition of mobile sportsbooks could still be months away.

Towards the end of April, the Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) met for its monthly meeting. The big question at hand was the status of an ongoing disparity review. This review was put into place to study all the potential impacts of legal online sports betting.

Until that review is complete, the process to license legal mobile operators remains at a standstill. As it stands, the sooner that study is completed, the quicker legal online sports betting can be launched across Maryland.

David Stamper works at the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. His reply to a request by SWARC for an update stated:

“I’ll send you an email as to why we’re not providing an update.”

Given the lack of clarity, a further delay in the process can be expected. With the next SWARC meeting scheduled for mid-May, time is running out on meeting an early September time frame for the mobile betting launch.

That time frame was designed to coincide with the start of the 2022 NFL season. Ironically enough, proponents of legal online sports betting in Maryland earmarked September of 2021 as the original target for launch.

In the meantime, sports fans in Maryland will have to be content with betting on the games at retail sportsbooks. The five locations offering legal sports betting include Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, MGM National Harbor, Live! Casino and Hotel, Ocean Downs Casino and Hollywood Casino Perryville.

In recent months, the SWARC did approve licensing for four additional retail sportsbook locations. One of those locations is Riverboat-on-the-Potomac. This is an off-track betting venue that has partnered with PointsBet. The gaming company’s physical location is in Colonial Beach, Virginia. However, it operates on the Potomac River which is covered by Maryland law.

Greenmount Station in Hamstead, MD is another off-track betting facility with an approved license for retail sports betting. This location is still waiting to secure a sportsbook operator to partner with.

Located in Frederick, Long Shot’s off-track betting is working through the process to open its retail sportsbook. The fourth location is Bingo World. Through a partnership with Rush Street Interactive (BetRivers), this gaming venue is also working through the process to go live.

Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.

The featured image for this post was sourced on Getty Images.