BetMGM Launches the First Legal Retail Sportsbook in Maryland

Caesars and FanDuel also launched their retail books this week, with Barstool, TwinSpires and PointsBet waiting in the wings.
BetMGM Launches the First Legal Retail Sportsbook in Maryland
December 10, 2021

BetMGM Sportsbook became the first retail book to take sports wagers in Maryland on Thursday, December 9 with Caesars Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook launched their books on Friday.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan placed two ceremonial first bets at the new sportsbook located inside the MGM National Harbor casino in Oxon Hill. The Republican tweeted that he was “proud to bet on the Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Football Team making it to the Super Bowl!”

In a statement, Hogan said Thursday’s launch “marks the culmination of more than a year of effort to get sports betting up and running here in the state of Maryland. In addition to allowing Marylanders to bet on football, basketball and more, sports betting will also help to keep more dollars in-state and will provide another critical revenue source for public education without raising taxes on families and small businesses.”

Hogan was joined by former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann and Prince George’s County Council Chairman Calvin Hawkins (D-Upper Marlboro).

Maryland is the 31st state to allow sports betting, and the 11th to do so this year. Maryland voters approved sports betting in a November 2020 referendum and on May 18, Hogan signed legislation to create a regulatory framework for legalized sports betting.

Lawmakers instituted a maximum wager limit of $5 million for one sporting event — to the derision of the industry, which had pushed for no limits, and Responsible Gaming (RG) proponents, who argued the max should not exceed $100,000.

Caesars, FanDuel launched on Friday

Following BetMGM's Thursday launch, two other MD casinos opened their doors for sports betting on Friday. Caesars Sportsbook at Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and the FanDuel Sportsbook at Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland, which is located in Hanover, both opened for business as well.

Hogan made an appearance at each opening ceremony, where he was among the very first to place their bets. At the Horseshoe Casino launch, Hogan was joined by Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, plus two former Ravens — wide receiver Torrey Smith and linebacker Adalius Thomas — and former NBA player Muggsy Bogues, a native of Baltimore and former player at the city’s Dunbar High School. Hogan was also in attendance at the ribbon-cutting Friday at the Live! Casino along with former Ravens free safety Ed Reed.

BetMGM reportedly was able to launch one day earlier than Caesars and FanDuel because it had already completed a controlled demonstration — in essence, a two-day soft launch period — with Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA) officials. Caesars and FanDuel reportedly conducted similar controlled demonstrations — during which Lottery staff observe live wagering — this week in the ramp-up to Friday’s “hard” launch.

Hollywood, Oceans Downs to open books in early 2022

Two additional casinos with licenses for retail sportsbooks — Hollywood Casino Perryville and the Ocean Downs Casino, located in Berlin — reportedly plan to open their facilities in early 2022. Hollywood is partnered with Penn National’s Barstool Sportsbook, while TwinSpires will open a sportsbook at Ocean Downs.

FanDuel’s future at the Live! Casino could be in question after news broke this week that Penn National had purchased it and two sister casinos in Pennsylvania for $1.8 billion.

Two more retail sportsbook licenses issued Wednesday

On Wednesday, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) awarded retail sportsbook licenses to two off-track betting (OTB) facilities: Long Shot’s in Frederick and Riverboat-on-the-Potomac in Colonial Beach, VA. Both reportedly plan to launch their sportsbooks in early 2022.

Although the latter is based in Virginia and customers enter from that state, the facility stands in the Potomac River, within Maryland’s territorial waters. The state line runs along the edge of the river closest to the Virginia shore.

Riverboat-on-the-Potomac has a partnership with PointsBet, while Long Shot’s is not currently partnered with an operator. Both will now go through a licensing approval process with the MLGCA.

SWARC’s issuance of the licenses to Long Shot’s and Riverboat-on-the-Potomac follows approval last week by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission, an independent advisory board to the MLGCA.

A sixth casino in Maryland, the Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Flintstone, has not yet applied for a sports betting license.

Another nine sportsbooks possible

Maryland’s gaming legislation specifically named 17 establishments that could receive sports betting licenses by SWARC. Besides the six casinos and two OTB facilities mentioned earlier, the remaining nine entities are:

  • Three stadiums: FedEx Field in Landover and M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore — home of the Washington Football Team and the Ravens, respectively — and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, also in Baltimore
  • Two race tracks: Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, located in Laurel and Baltimore, respectively
  • The Maryland State Fairgrounds, in Lutherville
  • Bingo World, a bingo hall in Baltimore
  • Greenmount Station, a restaurant in Hampstead
  • Jockey Bar & Grille, in Boonsboro
  • Rod ‘N’ Reel Resort, a hotel in Chesapeake Beach

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