Maryland residents voted “yes” to sports betting on November 3rd, 2020, paving the way for lawmakers to develop a framework and, ultimately launch live legal sports betting. Maryland is the final Mid-Atlantic state to legalize sports betting, and the referendum that did so does little other than legalize sports betting and name the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission as the regulator.
In May 2021, legislators passed a bill that would allow up to 60 mobile operators and specifically spells out 17 gambling entities that are currently in the gambling and/or sports industries that would be eligible for a retail sports betting license. These entities include current casinos, sports teams, racetracks, off track betting locations and bingo halls. The 60 mobile operators would partner with the brick and mortar betting locations in order to offer mobile betting in the state, complete with lucrative bonus offers.
Anything can happen, as we have seen in other states, but players should ultimately brace themselves for mobile sports betting in Maryland to remain sidelined until at least 2022. Retail betting, however, is officially live as of Friday, December 10th, 2021.
MD Sportsbook Alternatives: Over/Under Player Props
Maryland sports betting timetable
As of Friday, December 10th, 2021, retail betting is officially live in Maryland. Players can now place legal wagers in the Old Line State, however only in person. Given the amount of time it has taken to complete the legislation, regulations, and licensing, Maryland bettors hope to be able to legally place wagers through their mobile device, tablet, or computer at some point in 2022.
Who is eligible to place wagers in Maryland?
Anyone who is at least 21 years or older and is located in the state of Maryland is eligible to create a mobile account or place a retail wager in person. Players are not required to be a resident of Maryland in order to sign up, however they must be within state lines in order to successfully place any wagers through mobile. If placing a wager at a retail location, valid identification will be required.
Every online and mobile sports betting operation in the United States is regulated with the use of geolocation technology. Geolocation, by definition, is the process of identifying one’s geographical location by means of digital information. All players must agree to share their device’s location in order to successfully place any legal wagers via mobile, regardless of which state they are in. If using a desktop computer rather than a mobile device, specific software may be required to download in order to provide your location to the website.
Who can offer MD sports betting?
Under the new law, the state’s casinos and racetracks will be in the first wave of eligible locations to house brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. It’s also looking like stadiums like the Washington Football Team facility and bingo halls in the state would also gain access to a sportsbook. There is also language in the law that would grant bars and restaurants access to retail sports betting licenses.
When mobile sports betting finally does roll along, there will be a $500,000 application fee followed by a $1,500,000 license fee and there will be a 15% flat tax for both online and retail operations. This is one of the more operator friendly tax rates in the country, as we have seen a monstrous tax levied on gambling in Pennsylvania of 36% and a slightly lower tax rate in New Jersey of 13%. Regulatory authority to carry out the law will be placed with the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission, which already oversees the state’s casinos.
Online sportsbooks coming to Maryland
With up to 60 licenses up for grabs, you will likely see all the big names coming to Maryland. Some educated guesses can be made, based on ownership of the state’s six casinos and its five race courses, based on owners’ prior agreements with sports betting operators in other states.
Potential online sportsbook Physical Casino Owner Casino Location
BetMGM MGM National Harbor MGM Resorts International Oxon
Caesars Horseshoe Casino Caesars Entertainment Baltimore
FanDuel Live! Casino and Hotel The Cordish Companies Hanover
FOX Bet Laurel Park Stronach Group Laurel
PointsBet Riverboat on the Potomac Riverboat Group Charles County
TwinSpires Ocean Downs Casino & Racetrack Churchill Downs Berlin
Barstool Hollywood Perryville Penn National Perryville
TBD Rocky Gap Casino Resort Golden Entertainment Flintstone
TBD Timonium OTB at Maryland State Fairgrounds Maryland State Fair Timonium
TBD Rosecroft Raceway Stronach Group Fort Washington
TBD Pimlico Race Course Stronach Group
TBD Fair Hill Fairgrounds Cecil County Breeders’ Fair, Inc. /Fair Hill Races Elkton
Some of those sportsbook operators are clear-cut, such as in the case of MGM and Churchill Downs operating their own books across their properties. The Cordish Companies established a relationship with FanDuel last year through the Baltimore-based company’s Pennsylvania properties. Golden Entertainment, based in Las Vegas, has had agreements there and for its properties elsewhere with William Hill, which was recently rebranded as Caesars Sportsbook.
Hollywood Casino’s owner is a spin-off from Penn National Gaming, setting up potential use of that company’s new Barstool-branded app, which debuted in Pennsylvania in September.
Horseshoe Casino will bring the new and improved Caesars Sportbook app to Maryland as soon as online sports betting is approved and ready to go live.
And then there’s the case of Maryland’s horse racing tracks, three of which — Pimlico, Laurel Park, and Rosecroft Raceway — have the same owner, the Stronach Group. Those tracks and the Maryland State Fairgrounds racetrack are all expected to be licensed for sports betting. Among that group, Laurel Park was the first to strike a deal with their FOX Bet partnership and currently stands as the only occupied location. National operators with no clear connection to the casinos — DraftKings or BetRivers, among others — could all compete for the rights to one of the remaining racetracks’ skins to conduct online betting. The same holds true for them if the Washington Football Team emerges with the right to a sportsbook license.
The details of just whom enters the state, and in partnership with whom, will be as interesting to follow in Maryland as it has been in other states, where competition has been intense to enter the new markets in time to be among the first operators to get started.
There is some concern from legislators about the overabundance of licenses being offered, and to whom it may attract. In Tennessee, there were some issues with a sportsbook called Action 24/7, where the inexperienced sportsbook ended up in hot water for allowing some financial transactions that could be deemed a bit shady. The number of licenses may eventually shrink as the details are hammered out, but for now, it seems as though they are going by the old adage of “the more the merrier”.
Trying to play catch-up with Virginia and D.C.
Some states, such as neighboring Virginia in 2021, have been able to legalize sports betting through legislation. Maryland, on the other hand, required a constitutional amendment.
That prompted lawmakers to authorize a general election referendum with the following question, known as Maryland Question 2:
“Do you approve the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and events betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”
There was no vocal organized opposition, while the “pro” side was heavily promoted in a marketing campaign funded by DraftKings and FanDuel, which compete as online market leaders in many states.
With a majority vote of approval, the state joins its neighbors in Delaware, in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., all of which already have legal sports betting taking place.
Before the state legislative session came to an abrupt halt in March due to COVID-19 concerns, the Senate unanimously approved a bill that both called for the referendum and spelled out various details of how sports betting should be carried out in the state. With the House of Delegates lacking time to reach any consensus of its own on specifics and act, legislative leaders opted to strip the measure to a bare-bones question placed before voters to give sports betting a chance to progress this year.
The voter referendum passed with flying colors in November, where we saw more than ⅔ of the votes were in favor of allowing sports betting. This led to the bill being passed that made sports betting legal as of June 1, 2021. There are several more hurdles to get over before the first bet is placed.
Details of the bill
- Up to 60 mobile licenses opening the door for all the big names to enter the market.
- Licenses are $1,500,000 each.
- 15% flat tax rate on both mobile and retail sports betting.
- Casinos, horse tracks, OTB parlors, restaurants, bars and bingo halls are all eligible for retail sports betting.
- Mobile sportsbooks would need to partner with a retail sports betting license holder in order to operate in the state.
Casinos, horse racing set the stage for sports betting
While Maryland is still catching up to surrounding states with sports betting, it has a strong history of supporting legalized gambling.
The first casino opened in 2010 as a result of the 2008 referendum, which authorized only video lottery terminals at five locations. By 2012, state officials put forward another referendum that passed, this time to add table games at the existing properties and authorize development of a sixth casino in Prince George’s County. That casino, MGM National Harbor, quickly became the state’s largest upon opening in 2016.
Combined, the casinos’ revenue has reached nearly $1.8 billion annually, although it was closer to $1.3 billion in the 2019-20 fiscal year due to forced closures in the spring in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Long before the casinos’ arrival, Maryland’s status in gambling annals was cemented through horse racing and the famed Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, long the second leg in thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. (It became the third leg in 2020, however, due to COVID-related rescheduling, with longshot filly Swiss Skydiver winning in the 145th running of the race Oct. 3.)
Pimlico, which has a grandstand seating nearly 100,000 spectators, opened in 1870 with a main stakes race that was won by a horse named Preakness on its mile-long oval track. Three years later, that featured annual stakes race was named in honor of the colt.
Due to Pimlico’s deteriorating condition in recent years, there was a chance the Preakness would no longer be held there each May. That threat was erased by the legislature this spring, however, through approval of the Racing and Community Development Act of 2020. The measure authorizes issuance of bonds of up to $375 million to finance improvements to both Pimlico and its sister track, Laurel Park.
Talks began even before legalization was possible
While this was the first time the sports betting question was put before voters, the topic has been bandied about by lawmakers since even before the 2018 Supreme Court ruling made legalization feasible for the state.
In March 2018, the House voted 124-14 to put a similar referendum on the November ballot that year, but the Senate never acted on the proposal. The House action came at a time when the Supreme Court’s decision hadn’t yet been made, but was along the lines of similar legislation that had been approved in Pennsylvania, authorizing the legalization in the event the high court ruled in favor of New Jersey’s quest to let states decide their own fate.
There was some indication at the time that Maryland residents were already in favor of sports betting, as a Washington Post poll of registered voters in the state from 2018 found 53% of them had favored legalization — at least for pro sports — while 37% were opposed and 10% had no opinion.
The legislature revisited the issue in 2019, with some discussion of a potential bypass of the constitutional amendment requirement by putting the Maryland Lottery in charge of operating sports betting, as some states have done. That could have hastened the time frame for legal sports betting, as referendums are allowed only in even years in Maryland, but state leaders decided that would not be the best option and put the matter off until future action.
Banking with Maryland sportsbooks
When mobile sports betting finally does launch in Maryland, players will need to know about all of the different available methods to deposit and withdraw funds. Maryland is expected to launch with some of the bigger brand names in sports betting, so players can expect the same great banking options previously seen in other states:
(ACH) VIP Preferred e-check
As arguably the most popular option on the market, e-check acts as a middleman between the player’s bank account and the sportsbook. After the initial link, players can make fast, easy deposits directly from their bank account with one click of a button.
Being the world’s largest e-wallet, there is no doubt that PayPal is up there as one of the more elite online banking options. Players can use PayPal as a general hub to store their credit or debit cards, bank accounts, and more. Any and all information stored on PayPal will be accessible at any time, making for a great deposit method.
Play+ prepaid card
Play+ prepaid cards are offered by nearly every major player in the sportsbook world. This card is extremely useful for players who are restricted by their bank from making deposits to sportsbooks or casinos. Play+ prepaid cards allow players to deposit funds directly to the Play+ card itself, rather than the sportsbook, as a way to get around their bank’s policies. All users who sign up for a Play+ prepaid card will also receive a physical copy of their card in the mail, which can be used to withdraw funds through an ATM.
Old reliable. The classic debit or credit card is always a great form of payment to have, however as mentioned above they can sometimes run into trouble when it comes to online sportsbooks and casinos. Many banks carry policies that restrict their customers from transferring money to and from gambling companies, often forcing them to use a Play+ card instead.
Much like e-check, online banking allows users to directly transfer money to and from their bank account. The only difference between traditional online banking and e-check is that players will be required to sign in and enter their credentials every single time they wish to deposit money using online banking.
Bank wire transfer
As one of the least convenient deposit options available, bank wire transfers are typically only used by individuals looking to deposit an extremely large sum of money. Wire transfers require a bit of extra leg work by the customer, as they must first arrange all of the transfer details with their bank. Wire transfers can take anywhere between 7 and 10 days to complete, so it’s important to keep that in mind. The biggest drawback to this method is that banks usually charge an extra service fee for completing the transfer.
Cash with PayNearMe
This is the ideal deposit option for anyone who does not have access to a bank account or credit card, or just wants to deposit using cash. PayNearMe’s services are offered at a wide variety of retail locations across the United States, including CVS, 7/11, Family Dollar, and Walmart. Players can simply scan their app at the register, pay up in cash, and the funds should appear in their account instantly. There is no way of withdrawing any winnings through PayNearMe, so players will need to activate a second banking method in order to withdraw any funds.
Cash at the counter
As retail sports betting operations continue to expand throughout Maryland, players will have more opportunities to deposit funds in person. Every mobile sportsbook that goes live in Maryland will be tied to a physical location that will accept deposits as well as hand out withdrawals.
All of the deposit and withdrawal methods listed above are 100% safe and secure. There are no added transaction fees of any kind, aside from a potential wire transfer fee. Players should always confirm with their bank before making any wire transfers.