All along, it seemed as if mobile sports betting in Maryland would get done at some point in 2022.
Week 1 of the upcoming NFL season was set as the target goal well before retail sports betting was officially ushered into the state in December 2021. Now, that is looking like an unlikely best-case scenario.
The state still wants to launch during the season, though when specifically that will be is still to be determined. But if you ask Caesars CEO Tom Reeg, there’s a chance Maryland might not see online sports betting at all this year.
“I’m skeptical Maryland launches mobile (sports betting) in 2022,” Reeg said during Caesars’ Q1 earnings call on Tuesday. He continued to say that while he fully expects to have roots in Maryland when mobile eventually goes live. However, he doesn’t plan on aggressively spending through the end of the year.
For Maryland bettors eager to place legal bets from the comfort of their own homes, this is not what you want to hear. Again, even as the targeted Week 1 date started to look more and more unlikely, it still seemed as if mobile would launch at some point during the season.
But Reeg’s words on Tuesday can’t be ignored; he obviously knows a thing or two about this industry. While there’s no need to panic just yet, he’s not inspiring a ton of confidence.
For what it’s worth, Penn National, which has a partnership with Barstool Sports, disagrees. During its own quarterly call this week, the company made it clear it anticipates online sports betting to launch in Maryland before the end of the year.
Maryland Lottery and Gaming Agency Director John Martin understands the skepticism, he told Gaming Today. However, he also stated application process is expected to roll out “a little bit later this year.”
“We have a great relationship with the Caesars family, and we’re looking forward to working with Caesars should they decide to apply for a mobile sports wagering license — and I’m sure they will — when that process begins a little bit later this year,” Martin said.
Up to 60 mobile sports betting licenses could potentially be awarded when the time comes.
Where sports betting stands in Maryland
Retail sports betting has been live since December 2021 when five of the state’s six casinos opened sportsbooks. They are:
- Live! Casino & Hotel
- MGM National Harbor
- Horseshoe Casino Baltimore
- Hollywood Casino Perryville
- Ocean Downs Casino
In regards to mobile sports betting, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission tasked the law firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister to conduct a disparity survey. The purpose is to highlight any barriers to entry women- and minority-owned businesses may face if interested in getting involved in the space.
This study is one of the last major roadblocks standing in the way of legal mobile betting coming to Maryland. At the SWARC’s last meeting on April 21, assistant attorney general Dave Stamper said there was no update on the survey.
Regulators can establish a firm timeline for launch upon completion of this survey.
On Friday, the SWARC will host a summit for small businesses interested in getting involved in sports betting. The idea is to continue to educate locals as the state wades further into the sports wagering pool. The event will take place at Montgomery Park Business Center in Baltimore.
The next SWARC meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 18.