Sportsbooks in casinos? Yeah, that’s been done in Maryland.
But sportsbooks in bingo halls? That’s a first.
On Monday, BetRivers and Baltimore’s Bingo World celebrated the launch of BetRivers Sportsbook with a ribbon cutting. Bingo World President Randy Clemens, BetRivers Director of B2B Services Adam Glass, and several Maryland politicians attended.
Former Baltimore Raven and Super Bowl champion Qadry Ismael was also there and placed the first bet. He wagered $10 on the Ravens to win the upcoming AFC Championship as well as $10 on Justin Thomas to win the 2023 Masters.
Clemens told a local news station that the sportsbook has been a long time coming, and that he’s happy it’s finally here.
“We are extremely excited,” Clemens said in an interview WMAR-2 News. “It’s been a long road for us. We’re just happy to be able offer sports betting to the neighborhood, to the area. … We have machines, we have bingo, and now we have sports betting.”
Impressive sportsbook provides relaxed, fun atmosphere
Bingo World is the first bingo hall to offer Maryland sports betting. It is the fourth non-casino site to get a sports betting license, according to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC).
The facility is 3,000 square feet and offers:
- A bar with high-top seating
- 21 high-definition video screens
- Streaming BetRivers odds boards
- 12 sports wagering kiosks
- Three over-the-counter machines
“Our BetRivers Sportsbook … will offer the same premium quality experience that our customers from all over the country have come to expect at our retail sportsbook venues,” Glass said at the ribbon cutting.
“The BetRivers experience at Bingo World will feature high-quality viewing of multiple sporting events, comfortable and modern seating accommodations, food and beverage options. And most importantly — a highly trained and knowledgeable staff that is able to assist with sports bettors’ questions.”
Clemens said the sportsbook opens up yet another avenue for people to enjoy the property.
“We’ve always been know for being fun, festive, and friendly, and we hope to throw that into the sports betting aspect as well,” he said “You come in, you sit down in these great lounge chairs, enjoy the game, get to talk to the person next to you, enjoy yourself and just relax and have fun.”
Passing the test
To prep for the launch and solidify final approvals, Bingo World hosted two separate controlled demonstrations. It invited select guests to come and place sports bets. The MLGCC verified that the facility and its systems were in compliance.
“This new sportsbook is a huge win for avid sports fans in Baltimore and beyond,” Ismail said in a press release about the new facility. “Betting has become such a big part of the sports world and now Ravens fans and other bettors can come here to be entertained and enjoy the wide variety of betting options BetRivers will offer.”
Sports betting continues to expand in Maryland
Bingo World is the largest bingo hall in the state, and has been a mainstay of the Baltimore area. The property earned its sports betting license in March just a couple of months after sports betting launched in Maryland in December 2021.
MGM National Harbor, Horsehoe Casino, Live! Casino & Hotel, Ocean Downs Casino and Hollywood Casino all took bets within days of the launch. However, Bingo World is the first non-casino facility to accept wagers. It’s a major milestone for the beloved betting hall.
Three additional off-track betting sites have also been approved for a sports betting license. They are Long Shot’s (Frederick), Riverboat-on-the-Potomac (Charles County), and Greenmount Station (Hampstead). None of those three locations, however, have opened a physical sportsbook just yet.
Other locations that can apply for licenses include the Maryland State Fairgrounds, The Jockey Bar and Grille (Boonsboro), and a second bingo hall, Rod ‘N’ Reel (Chesapeake Beach).
A total of 17 sites throughout the state were pre-named for sports betting licenses.
“Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s Licensing investigators are in frequent contact with additional sports wagering facilities and prospective applicants to guide them through the background investigation process,” the MLGCC notes.
What about online sports betting?
Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) approved proposed online sports betting regulations and applications in mid-July. SWARC will now submit them to the Maryland Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review for “emergency approval.”
Once approved there, a 30-day public comment period will then begin.
Once effective and the state-run disparity survey has been completed, SWARC can then determine a date for when formal applications and fees can be submitted. From there, the group can then work on a potential timeline for additional actions before officially ushering in mobile sports betting in Maryland.
SWARC is scheduled to next meet on August 17. However, there’s always the chance it adds an emergency meeting before then.
While this is a positive step in the right direction, there is still much to do before online sports betting is available in the Old Line State. Governor Larry Hogan’s recent plea to get things operating by the beginning of the NFL season (Sept. 8) seems unlikely.