Momentum For Maryland Legal Sports Betting Launch Real

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The Baltimore Ravens. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

The state of Maryland is putting the final touches on regulations for a potential legal sports betting industry. It all started with the approval of Maryland voters on the 2020 Election ballot and was followed by Governor Larry Hogan signing a draft copy of the legislation into law in May. Since then, the plan has moved through various committees to ultimately land in the hands of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission which officially signed off on a set of rules late last week.

The 228-page draft of the regulations has given the Maryland public a clear look at what they can expect from their impending platform. It also acts to put the pro sports teams that call Maryland home – the Baltimore Ravens, the Washington Football Team, which play their games in Landover, and the Baltimore Orioles on equal footing with other clubs in their leagues while at the same time assisting in maximizing their fans’ overall viewing experience.

A Glimpse at What Is Coming

The rules that the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission lay out are what bettors and providers will be faced with when the licensing process begins, and the platform eventually goes live. Under the rules, there will be room for up to 40 retail licences and a whopping 60 mobile licenses.

There will be two levels of Class A licences, slated for the state’s casinos, current professional sports franchises, and horse tracks. The 10 Class A licenses will be divided into two groups based on the venue’s status in the market. A-1 will be for the most high-profile and therefore will be the most expensive and Class A-2 will be reserved for smaller venues under the casino/sports franchise/horse track category.

There will also be two sets of Class B licenses among the 30 expected, for those hopeful venues that fall under a lesser category such as the Maryland State Fairgrounds.Application fees will vary – from $50,000 to $2 million for retail facilities and $500,000 to $1.5 million for the 60 potential mobile licenses. All will be taxes at a middle-of-the-road 15%.

Making the Most of the Maryland Market

Maryland legislators have signaled their desire for a robust and somewhat saturated sports betting market. Home of the 19th largest population in the US with just under 6.2 million residents, hopes are that a rabid fanbase, three pro sports teams and a fair share of high-profile college teams, along with all of the top betting providers in the country will be able to make up for the lack of population-base in the state.

Maryland has already begun to line up some of top-end providers to operate within their legal sports betting scene. Caesars and MGM Resorts already operate in the state and are expected to be prominent figures going forward, Penn National purchased a casino in the state earlier this year and PointsBet has a partnership with Riverboat on the Potomac in place. Other elite providers like Barstool Sportsbook are rumored to have peeked in on the Maryland scene.

Maryland’s sports teams have also been busy aligning themselves with elite providers, even though legal sports betting hasn’t even gone live in the state just yet. The Washington Football team has a deal in place with one of the two National DFS giants and the Baltimore Ravens have already aligned with BetMGM. It likely won’t be long before the Baltimore Orioles have their own deal in place.

Still Some Hurdles to Clear

While close, the launch of the Maryland legal sports betting scene still has some hurdles to clear. The approved regulations now move on to the Maryland General Assembly Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review for their approval and then on to the Maryland Register, which will sign off on the draft.

There is still a public consultation phase that has to be endured, which could last up to 30 days and then the actual provider application process for hopefuls. That will come after the public has their say. The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission is in charge of releasing the application submission guidelines and they haven’t quite gotten around to that step just yet.

No Shortage of Competition

The sheer number of sports betting licenses slated to be handed out in Maryland alone could bog down the next steps in the legalization process. That said, there is expected to be heavy interest among competing sportsbooks hoping to launch in the Maryland market. Expect BetMGM, the two DFS giants and PointsBet, which already have interests in Maryland to be the first to act on their licensing desires and for other major providers to follow suit. Competition certainly won’t be a problem with the Maryland scene.

Just when legal sports betting officially kicks off in Maryland is still a bit up-in-the-air. Hopes were that the start of the NFL season September 9 would be the jumping-off point, but that date seems a little overly optimistic at this point in time. It looks as though the middle of the NFL schedule is more of a reasonable ask, with the end of the year being mentioned as the absolute latest for sports betting to go live in Maryland.