Maryland gaming regulators OK’d a handful of sports betting license applications on Jan. 26 — several of which align with the state’s goals for diversifying ownership.
The Maryland Lottery & Gaming Control Commission approved three land-based sports betting operators and two online sportsbooks. The state Sports Wagering Application Review Commission will consider licensing those operators at its next monthly meeting.
Superbook Sports among newest Maryland operator approvals
Superbook Sports and Crab Sports are both looking to join the Maryland online sports betting market, which kicked off a few days before Thanksgiving. Two Green Turtle sports bars (Canton and Towson) and Michael’s on the South River (Riva) are asking for licenses to open retail sportsbooks.
Maryland’s sports betting law requires license holders to meet specific diversity and inclusion requirements. Small businesses, such as Green Turtle and Michael’s, and state-focused operators, such as Crab Sports, are prime examples of the law’s intention.
Lowdown on Maryland’s (likely) new sportsbooks
Superbook is a known commodity in both the retail and online sports betting industry. The Las Vegas-based operator runs the Westgate Resort & Casino’s Superbook, one of Sin City’s most popular shops.
Superbook has online sportsbooks in New Jersey, Colorado, Arizona, Tennessee, Iowa and Ohio. And while the brand still awaits its Maryland license, it’s already partnered with a major Maryland sports team. Superbook plans to debut a retail sportsbook at Oriole Park at Camden Yards later this year.
Meanwhile, Crab Sports is a new player in the sports betting arena. According to a report from state regulators, Crab Sports’ executive team has “over 20 years” experience in European betting markets. Alice-Emma Starr, Benjamin Starr, Adele Sinclair and Derek Baker are listed as principals of the Maryland-centric operator.
BetPARX will be the sports betting provider to the two Green Turtle sports bars. The Canton sportsbook will occupy existing vacant restaurant space. A two-story stand-alone facility is under construction in Towson and should be opening soon.
Michael’s is primarily a special events and catering business. Michael’s is currently converting its existing venue to be used solely to house the sports wagering operation, regulators said.
Three women — Kathe Piera, Christina Moon, Roberta Smith own Michael’s, according to the state filings. Piera owns 95% of the business she started with her late husband.
Maryland sports betting market welcomes both large & local operators
Legal sports betting is still relatively new in Maryland. Although many states rushed to legalize sports gambling following a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Maryland’s approach was more deliberate.
Voters approved land-based and online sports betting in November 2020. State lawmakers borrowed from the existing regulatory framework in other states to draft a sports betting law but included requirements to widen the potential pool of operators and owners.
So far, the law seems to be working. As required, operators such as FanDuel, BetMGM, DraftKings and Caesars recently submitted diversity and inclusion plans to Maryland gambling regulators.
But smaller shops are also getting a chance in Maryland. In addition to the national operators, Long Shot’s in Frederick and Greenmount OTB in Hampstead can count themselves among the state’s legal bookies.
State of legal sports betting in MD
Early returns on the state’s fledgling sports betting industry are consistent with other legal jurisdictions. Online sports betting attracts significantly more action than in-person, and the dominant national operators control most of the market.
Marylanders gambled more than $478 million in the first month of online sports betting. According to public data, Maryland’s December online sports betting handle (the amount wagered) was the third-largest in an opening month of any state in U.S. history.
FanDuel and DraftKings, the two largest online sportsbooks in the U.S., accounted for 82% of Maryland’s digital handle and almost 87% of operator revenue in December 2022.
Maryland casinos began offering in-person betting in December 2021. Online sports betting started on Nov. 23, 2022, with seven mobile apps going live that day.
Maryland’s sports betting law allows for up to 60 online sportsbook licenses. As many as 47 brick-and-mortar licenses are available, including a unique provision permitting retail sportsbooks inside professional sports venues.
Thursday’s Commission meeting served as yet another step forward in solidifying those licensees.