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Expectations for Maryland’s Impending Legal Sports Betting Scene

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Expectations for Maryland’s Impending Legal Sports Betting Scene
Inner Harbor, Baltimore, MD, USA. Photo by Colin Lloyd.

Maryland became one of three states that on November 3 voted to welcome legal sports betting into their state. Since that time, Maryland legislators have gotten the ball rolling with a draft set of rules for the platform and a comprehensive Bill, House Bill 940 that Governor Larry Hogan officially signed into law May 18. Hopes for the platform are that it is up and running in time for the NFL season that kicks off September 9.

Some of Maryland’s plans have raised a few eyebrows including the sheer number of operators they hope to welcome into their expansive platform. But what has never been in doubt is Maryland’s potential to become a top-tier jurisdiction, complete with elite providers, and perhaps a few new under-the-radar companies willing to take a shot on the legal sports betting industry.

60+ Operators?

Maryland legislators have paved the way for 60+ operators to function within its state’s legal sports betting platform with existing elite caliber companies operating alongside small, Maryland based companies with minority and even female ownership.

Currently the state’s six casinos, its two horse racing tracks, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course and the three pro sports venues in Maryland are all in line to receive their own licences. Stadiums hosting the Baltimore Orioles, the Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Football Team will get first crack at the licenses and host legal gambling right out of the gate.

The draft rules also pave the way for 30 more licences for retail, in-person venues which will include off-track betting facilities, the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium and large bingo halls. Up to 60 additional mobile betting licences, or skins will be awarded as well, although there is a school of thought that the number won’t quite hit the 60-license threshold.

“Maryland takes the competitive sports betting business plan into uncharted territory,” Geoff Fisk, Senior Analyst for MarylandSharp.com said. “We’ve seen online sports betting thrive in New Jersey, with more than 20 different mobile wagering brands. Maryland is allowing triple that number, and it’s amazing to contemplate how that market will unfold.”

Good For the Maryland Market?

Competition within any market is a good thing, particularly for those to which the competition is directed. Maryland legislators were aiming for a “diverse and inclusive” legal sports betting market, and it appears that is what they will get.

What it will mean is a whole lot of providers fighting it out for a medium-sized Maryland market. Those with the best marketing, best bonusses and best overall product will likely succeed in the impending race to acquire and retain customers.

Geoff Fisk said: “We’ll see many companies take their first shot at mobile sports betting in the Maryland market. Can the smaller sports betting startups compete with brands like [the two DFS behemoths] and BetMGM? It will be intriguing to watch that competition play out, and see how Maryland emerges compared to other sports betting states.”

What the Maryland Market Is Likely To Produce

In the leadup to the sports betting legalization process in Maryland, there was talk of just how much the potential platform could produce. More studies have been conducted lately and they reveal some impressive numbers for the Maryland scene.

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission predicts in the range of $184 million in annual revenues coming from the Maryland legal sports betting industry. MarylandSharp.com sports betting revenue analyst Geoff Fisk is out with his prediction of more than $217 million annually coming from his state’s legal sports betting scene.

Either way, the numbers are impressive and should provide state and local coffers in Maryland a nice tax revenue bump that has been earmarked for education programs in the state. Thanks to Maryland’s proposed 15% tax rate, Fisk’s estimates would mean that $32.55 million annually would be generated for those needy programs.

So, while Maryland’s legal sports betting program may come across as a little unorthodox, there is little doubt that the regulations will help the state of Maryland land a Top-10 spot in the Bet-Friendly State rankings. It may even become a model for prospective states going forward.

Now the race is on for a September 9 launch, in time for Maryland to take full advantage of the bread-and-butter NFL season. “Maryland sports betting seems destined for success. The attractive tax rate and unprecedented opportunities for new sportsbook brands should lead to a win-win situation for the operators and the state,” concluded Geoff Fisk.