Maryland regulators have gotten the ball rolling on two more applications for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, progress that comes as the launch of retail betting in the state is expected to happen later this month.
The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission on Thursday determined two off-track betting facilities are qualified for a retail sports wagering license, Riverboat on the Potomac in Colonial Beach, Va. (its facilities are on the river, in Maryland) and Long Shot’s in Frederick.
The venues are small businesses that have minority and women owners, the release said, ensuring the participation of which was a goal of Maryland’s sports-betting legislation. Both of their applications will now go to Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), the entity that awards licenses.
“We’re extremely happy to see these two locally owned businesses move forward, and we’re eager to continue working with them in the coming weeks to launch their sports wagering operations,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin said in a press release.
Retail launch soon, mobile launch TBD
Thursday’s news is more momentum for retail sports betting in Maryland, although online sportsbooks are looking like they won't be legally offered in the state until some point in 2022.
Additionally, even if a company is issued a retail sports betting license, they still would need to apply for a separate one for mobile wagering if they want to offer it. The state's legal sports betting model allows for up to 60 online sportsbook licenses to be issued, as well as 47 licenses for retail books.
Still, with a few more nods from regulators, physical sportsbooks could be taking bets in Maryland before the end of 2021.
“Everything is on pace for the first public openings to happen in December,” Martin said in the release. “The facilities and the public are eager to get started, and so are we.”
Long Shot’s and the Riverboat (which partnered with PointsBet) are also two of the 17 specific entities that are named in Maryland’s sports-betting law. Applications for sportsbooks at those locations are being addressed first by regulators, with seven facilities having had their applications advanced by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC).
Five venues have now received initial approval from the MLGCC and been awarded in-person sports betting licenses by the SWARC as well. Those five facilities and their approved operating partners are:
- Hollywood Casino in Perryville and Barstool Sportsbook
- Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore and Caesars Sportsbook
- Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover and FanDuel Sportsbook
- MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill and BetMGM
- Ocean Downs Casino in Berlin and TwinSpires
Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff are working with those five facilities to set dates for “controlled demonstrations” of their retail sports betting operations, which will include invited guests and regulators watching, the release said. There must be two days of successful test runs by the casinos before they can open their sportsbooks to the wider public.
“Controlled demonstrations are an important final step before sports wagering opens to the public,” Martin said in the release. “They serve as a dress rehearsal for the facilities and their staffs, and they allow Maryland Lottery and Gaming to assure the public that these operations are ready to go.”