The day is finally here for sports bettors in the Old Line State.
After years of waiting, the formal launch of online sports betting in Maryland took place on Wednesday at 9 a.m. Eastern Time.
The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) announced on Wednesday morning that it had issued sports-wagering licenses to seven mobile sportsbooks. The operators of those online sportsbooks completed controlled demonstrations of their wagering operations on Monday, taking bets from customers in a soft launch of sorts.
"Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff ensured that the seven operators complied with all required procedures, and that their systems functioned properly," the regulator said on Wednesday.
As a result, seven online sports betting sites are teed up to start taking wagers in the state today, and operators announced in the morning they were already doing so. The seven eligible to launch in Maryland on Wednesday are:
The formal launch of mobile wagering in Maryland comes a little more than two years after voters in the state approved legal sports betting in a referendum.
And, although in-person sports wagering began at Maryland casinos in December, the start of online betting was delayed in part because of the state's unique legislation, which required regulators to take steps to ensure there is diversity in the industry.
The long-awaited launch grated on Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who urged the state's Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) to get mobile sports betting up and running before the start of the 2022-23 NFL season. While that didn't happen, regulators have still managed to get online sports betting operational in time for part of that season, which should come as a relief to some people.
“We’re excited to reach this milepost and have mobile wagering available to everyone with Thanksgiving Day football games coming up tomorrow,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin said in a press release on Wednesday. “But at the same time, this is only a milepost. There are additional mobile sports wagering entities in the pipeline, and our work is ongoing as we guide them across the finish line.”
More to come
There are expected to be even more mobile sportsbooks live in Maryland in the not-too-distant future. Three operators (Betfred, betPARX, and Fanatics) have been awarded licenses but were not ready to launch yet this week.
Meanwhile, state regulators received 21 total applications for online sports betting licenses, and Maryland Lottery and Gaming is currently running background checks on the other 11 entities.
"An applicant must be found qualified via Maryland Lottery and Gaming background investigation before SWARC can award a license," the regulator said on Wednesday. "Applicants’ names are not disclosed until Maryland Lottery and Gaming completes their background investigations and schedules their qualification hearings."