Maryland Sports Betting Launch Continues to be Delayed

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Believe it or not, Maryland legalized online sports betting almost 18 months ago. However, the online sports betting market has yet to launch as the state has been amidst the longest delay of any state to legalize sports betting since the United States Supreme Court struck down the ban on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018.

What’s the Hold-Up?

Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin said he’s not surprised it has taken this long for the state to launch as its law was “far more comprehensive than any other jurisdiction’s, so it’s not really a fair comparison.” Martin is referring to a ballot referendum approved in November 2020 that requires the state to study market-inclusion opportunities.

The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) hopes to determine whether or not it needs to make additional efforts to include minority- and women-owned businesses in the sports betting industry via the studies. The agency tasked with the studies will reportedly have the results no sooner than the summertime.

Application Process Beginning

The Maryland sports betting legislation will allow for up to 17 designated licenses as well as 30 retail and 60 mobile licenses. With so many potential licenses up for grabs, there should be plenty of opportunities for minority groups to be involved in the market.

According to Kimberly Copp, an attorney with Taft Stettinius & Hollister, there is work being done behind the scenes on applications for the licenses and she hopes to have a substantive example of such applications ready for the next SWARC meeting on May 18.

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Retail Betting Humming Along

There are currently five casinos in Maryland including Live! Casino (FanDuel) in Hanover, MGM National Harbor (BetMGM) in Oxon Hill, Horseshoe Casino (Caesars) in Baltimore, Ocean Downs Casino (TwinSpires) in Berlin, and Hollywood Casino (Barstool) in Perryville. There are also four new licenses being considered for additional retail locations.

In the three full months of retail sports betting in Maryland since its launch on December 9, the casinos have generated a total of $105,685,301 in sports bets with an 11.8% hold rate generating $12,428,266 in revenue. The state has also collected $1,825,042 in total tax revenue.

Missing Out on Revenue

While Maryland has generated $1.8 million in tax revenue in those three months of retail sports betting, its neighbor Virginia surpassed that number in January 2022 alone by nearly $1 million. Since launching online-only sports betting in January 2021, Virginia has generated $24.6 million in tax revenue with a 15% tax rate, the same as Maryland’s.

With the state’s 15% tax rate, potential estimates for mobile betting tax revenue have come in around $30 million per year according to MarylandReporter.com. Those tax dollars would go to Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund, a fund that works to help families in marginalized communities build a stronger workforce.

Next Steps

Martin has said that he believes the initial target date of the start of the 2022 NFL season is now unlikely for the state’s online sports betting launch. “A lot has to happen, and I suppose it could, but looking at the track record we have over the last 18 months, it seems unlikely that it would happen by the start of football season.” Now, Martin would be happy if it launches at some point during the upcoming season.

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. As the United States embarks on an exciting journey towards the legalization of sports betting, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to cover industry news, NFL and NBA odds, and more.

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