After a tortuous two-year process leading up to launch, Maryland sports betting has had a smooth first week.
Two bettors, Andy, 36, and another who opted to remain anonymous, spoke with PlayMaryland about their early impressions of the regulated market, and both praised DraftKings for ease of use and vast improvements from questionable offshore sportsbooks.
Bettors opt for trusted sportsbook brands
The Maryland sports bettors we spoke with Monday have used the DraftKings app since last week’s launch. One user stuck exclusively with DraftKings, while the other also tried FanDuel and BetMGM. In both cases, DraftKings’s name recognition drew them in. Andy, who preferred to keep his last name out of this report, explained his reasoning:
“It’s the most popular and reliable option, so I figured I’d go with it.”
The other had been playing daily fantasy sports through FanDuel and DraftKings for years.
“DraftKings is definitely the best, followed by FanDuel. BetMGM comes in third for me. It doesn’t offer quite as many options and promos as the other two.”
Big promos & bonuses aren’t always the main draw
Both of our bettors had capitalized on the various promo offers and perks though neither felt the promos sealed the deal for them.
Andy used some of the free bets acquired from the DraftKings Maryland Bet $5 Get $200 offer. When asked if he planned to use all the free bet credit before the Dec. 30 expiration date, he said he didn’t know about the expiration date but wasn’t too concerned about spending all the credit.
Our second bettor found the odds boosts offered by DraftKings to be a fun option when deciding on parlays and player props. That didn’t entirely sell him on DraftKings, though.
In the case of both bettors, ease of use set DraftKings apart from the competition.
It was a busy first long weekend for Maryland online betting, as GeoComply reported 16.5 million location checks, meaning players logging in or attempting to make a bet.
Regulated sportsbooks always trump shaky, offshore options
Andy was no stranger to online sports betting. He’d used offshore sportsbooks in the past, and we asked him, in his limited experience so far, how DraftKings compared to the offshore sites.
“DraftKings is incredible. The ease of use is great compared to offshore books. The odds are a lot better too. In my experience, offshore books jack up the odds so they can make their money. DraftKings has been a much better overall experience.”
He explained that his offshore experience came through a small offshore book supported by friends, which could explain the steep odds, but nonetheless, his concern is common around people who use the illegal market.
Retrofitting could cause problems for longtime customers
Our bettor that migrated to sports betting from DFS ran into problems with the FanDuel Maryland Sportsbook. He gave us this account of why he’s likely to stick with DraftKings.
“I played DFS on FanDuel for a few years before moving over to DraftKings because it was easier. So, when sports betting went live in Maryland, I created sports betting accounts for both DraftKings and FanDuel because I didn’t see anything on my DFS accounts that allowed me to add sports betting.
“When I tried to place a bet with my new FanDuel account using the free bet promo, I got locked out for suspicious activity. I then got an email from FanDuel saying that I had a previous account on record and to use that one. So, I finally got my original FanDuel account synced up with the new Maryland sports betting app, but I could no longer claim the promo offer. I kind of threw my hands up at that point.”
When asked if FanDuel eventually credited him with the promo offer, he said that it hadn’t. He didn’t run into this problem at all with DraftKings.
His story may be a common one for people coming from the DFS community and wondering about retrofitting their old DFS accounts to the new online sportsbooks.
We reached out to FanDuel through the main customer services channels (real-time chat and email) to resolve the issue. The “FanDuel Coach”, the name of their customer service chat, shuffled us through an automated diagnostic to an agent.
We explained our bettor’s experience to the agent and then were told we would be handed off to another agent who could better answer our problem after we rated the quality of service of the first agent. We rated them in good faith that we would be handed off to an appropriate agent. This never happened. We were disconnected from the chat and never contacted by another agent.
FanDuel’s email support system gave us a 12-hour wait time for a response, but that time elapsed and we never received a response.
Exploring Maryland sports betting apps takes time
Both our bettors found that with so many sports to choose from and so many markets in every sport, navigating an app like DraftKings is a process. Andy remarked:
“There are so many sports, prop bets, and teasers that it’s going to take me some time to figure out the app.”
Our second bettor found DraftKings parlay betting to be an enticing option.
“The Maryland DraftKings app takes away a lot of the work. Right when I log on, it cues up a Ravens-focused four-leg parlay. And if I didn’t like that one, I can swipe left and it will cue up a second parlay. The app takes away all the laboring over piecing together your own parlays.”
Some might find this to be a little too easy, and our bettor indicated that a casual gambler may get lured into pulling the trigger on these risky pre-made parlays.
Andy also zeroed in on the parlays, showing similar diffidence about taking the bigger risks. He noted wryly:
“I don’t normally mess with parlays because that’s how the sportsbooks make their money.”
However, he apparently couldn’t resist the temptation. One of his first bets was a four-leg parlay — and a winner, at that. The ticket:
- Brazil over Serbia
- Bills over Lions
- Cowboys over Giants
- Vikings over Patriots
“I’m sticking with DraftKings,” he said after touting his four-leg winner. While he might be feeling the high of a big win, we don’t blame him for riding the hot app.
Our other bettor didn’t disclose any big wins (or losses). When asked about his betting exploits so far, he wisely offered:
“I’m doing this solely for entertainment. I’m not paying off any houses through this.”