Featured in this article:
  • Maryland is still unsure when it will launch mobile sportsbook apps.
  • Licensing committee still has not promulgated application rules for mobile sportsbooks.
  • Delays are costing the state money, despite offering in-person betting at casinos.

3 Minute Read

Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore has an in-person sportsbook while Maryland waits for mobile sports betting apps. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

With March Madness upon us and state after state posting record numbers from mobile wagering, mobile Maryland sports betting is still in a holding pattern. And sports bettors are starting to get antsy with bureaucratic delays.

Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin understands the public’s consternation: “this is something that they voted on in November 2020 that they wanted sports wagering and it doesn’t help when they pick up the paper or they look at news outlets and see other jurisdictions around the country launching sports books.”

When Will Mobile Maryland Sports Betting Start?

As of now, Director Martin believes the state will have betting apps available before the 2022 football season. However, a review commission is only now launching a study of racial and gender disparities in gaming licenses.

Maryland sports betting Orioles

Orioles baseball season is about to start and Maryland is still waiting on mobile sports betting apps. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

One of the key features of Maryland’s betting plan is to promote minority and female owned businesses within the sportsbook industry. But the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) has only just now gotten around to hiring a firm to look into the issue. It is unclear how the SWARC plans to ensure diverse representation in the licensure process.

Scarcity of licenses should not be a factor that prevents diversity. Maryland plans to issue up to 60 mobile sports betting licenses. That amount would be larger than any other state and offer a truly competitive betting marketplace.

But the SWARC has not even issued rules for the mobile license application process, imperiling a football-season launch date. Ensuring small businesses and diversity representation will be just one of numerous issues the SWARC will have to sort through. Crucially, they must determine whether they will have a uniform start date for mobile sportsbooks or rollout licenses as they are approved.

In-Person Maryland Sportsbooks Post Strong Returns

A uniform launch date may be fairer to smaller sportsbooks hoping to gain market share against large, national brands. However, it will likely delay the start of mobile Maryland sports betting, costing the state money.

(Maryland’s in-person sportsbooks making money from Iowa basketball’s misfortune)

Since allowing retail sportsbooks near the end of 2021, Maryland bettors have had the option of driving to a casino and placing a bet. For the first weekend of March Madness, many gamblers have stayed closer to home instead of taking a trip to Atlantic City or Las Vegas.

A large sportsbook handle in March will continue a solid trend for Maryland’s casino industry. In January 2022, Maryland sportsbooks had a handle of $32.5 million. That is a solid number for a state of just over 6 million people, especially considering all the neighboring states feature sports betting.

But receipts from across the Potomac River in Virginia show how much money Maryland is leaving on the table. January 2022 sportsbook handles in Virginia, where mobile betting is simple, exceeded $485 million. While Virginia has over 8 million residents, the population disparity alone does not account for this large gap.

Instead, mobile betting drives higher revenues which leads to more tax receipts for the state. Every day the SWARC continues its deliberate if not unnecessarily slow mobile licensing process costs Maryland money.

James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro GambleOnline.co about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virgina and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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