Confessions Of A New Maryland Sports Bettor: Never Wager On Your Home Team

Posted on December 13, 2021

On Friday, I did a thing: I placed my first sports bet at a casino as a new Maryland sports bettor.

Now before you ask: Yes, I’ve placed a sports bet before – on my phone. But never physically at a casino.

A day earlier, we saw the launch of retail sports betting in Maryland. Gov. Larry Hogan made the first legal wager in state history at BetMGM Sportsbook & Lounge at the MGM National Harbor casino.

The following day, my hometown casino, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, joined the mix. And I took it upon myself to be a part of this pivotal moment in history.

I’m happy to report this experience was pretty seamless. But it did come with a bit of anxiety.

(“Hey Alexa, cue Confessions by Usher.”)

Maryland sports bettor? Bring cash

So, nobody thought to tell me that I needed to bring cash to place a sports bet at a casino? That’s cool. And before you ask, yes I’m from Baltimore, and yes I’ve been to the casino. But in my history, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore would serve as an “after the nightclub” destination, so you would never really catch me gambling there.

Anyway, I walked over to the betting kiosk with my debit card in hand, ready to place a same-game parlay for Sunday’s Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens matchup. After all, I had previously bet online in other states, and my card worked just fine.

But in the Baltimore casino, I examined the betting kiosk, and I couldn’t find a card reader. There was only a place for cash, as well as a slot that prints out your betting slip.

My initial thought: Am I tripping?

Subsequent thoughts:

  • “See, this is why Maryland needs to launch online sports betting ASAP.”
  • “I wonder if unc next to me knows what to do.”

I took the safe route and asked one of the employees from Ceasars Sportsbook, which operates Horseshoe Casino Baltimore’s sports-betting efforts, if the betting kiosks take debit cards. He told me that I unfortunately would need to go to an ATM to withdraw some cash.

Great.

A hefty withdrawal fee

Luckily, finding an ATM at the casino wasn’t too difficult. After all, the casino, which opened in 2014, was my stomping grounds back in the day.

As I went to withdraw $50 in hopes of a quick come-up, the ATM told me that there would be a $7.99 service fee for withdrawing money.

First, I don’t know why ATMs charge people to take money out of their own bank accounts. Secondly, I’ve seen withdrawal fees before, but $7.99?! C’mon on, now.

Lastly, I could only take out increments of $20, which didn’t exactly cater to my planned $50 bet.

Nonetheless, I sucked it up and withdrew only $40. So much for placing a $50 bet.

Hoping for riches with a 4-leg parlay

I returned to the betting kiosk after my boxing match with the ATM.

Coming into this moment in sports-betting history, I already knew I wanted to do a parlay because of the potentially bigger payout. And with only $40, this was an opportunity to increase it more than 20 times over.

Now, professional bettors may chide my strategy, but I opted for a four-leg one-game parlay for the Browns-Ravens game. Go big or go home, right?

The betting kiosk was so easy to navigate. First, I slipped my $40 into the kiosk and looked for Sunday’s NFL games. I then searched for each leg of my bet.

Here was my final parlay wager:

  • Point spread: Ravens +3
  • Total: Under 43 points
  • Prop bet #1: Mark Andrews over 56.5 yards total receiving yards
  • Prop bet #2: Devonta Freeman to score at least one touchdown

Here, I’m thinking that this was a pretty respectable, well-thought-out bet.

The Ravens hadn’t had high-scoring games the previous few weeks, and Mark Andrews is QB Lamar Jackson‘s go-to. No problem.

I also thought that, after the Ravens’ performance against the Browns in Week 12, that we would see a similar effort despite our injured secondary.

The Devonta Freeman TD bet, admittedly, was a bit of a risk. But I figured he would see the endzone before Latavius Murray did.

Anyway, with that rationale, I felt pretty good betting $40 for a potential payout of $920.

I submitted the bet and took my betting slip from the kiosk. There, Chels. We did it. One step closer to being $920 richer!

The anxiety was real for this Maryland sports bettor

I’m not going to lie: I was a bit nervous heading into the Ravens game.

However, I did not expect that this anxious feeling would last the entire game.

I pretty much knew all bets were off the table (literally) when Jackson left the game in the first half with an ankle injury. And that’s no shade to backup QB Tyler Huntley; I just knew that coming from behind against the Browns would take a bit of a miracle.

After all, at halftime, the Browns had a commanding 24-6 lead. It wasn’t looking good for the #RavensFlock.

At this point, I’m thinking, “Forget the $40. The bet is a loser. I just need my boys to win this game, period.” I forgot about being a news Maryland sports bettor and reverted to simply being a Ravens diehard.

And then some funny things started to happen:

I’ll fast-forward to the fourth quarter. By then, Huntley helped us cut into the 18-point deficit. We’re now behind, just 24-22, with 1:17 left on the clock.

At this point my hands are sweaty, and I’m thinking the same thought most Ravens faithful thinks every week: My mental and physical health are at stake.

Baltimore then went for an onside kick and recovered the ball. WOW. My heart is beating fast, my dad is running around the living room like a crazy person, and we’re feeling pretty optimistic. I’m thinking, “We’re going to add this win to our miracle victory list.”

But with 4th and 6 on the Ravens’ 46-yard line, Huntley tossed a short pass to Rashod Bateman – and he was tackled immediately, short of the first down marker.

So, now not only did I lose my bet (losing two of four legs of the parlay), but the Ravens lost the game too. It was a double-punch to the gut.

Nonetheless, those feelings of despair didn’t last too long. Huntley played a heck of a ballgame, and the Ravens defense held the Browns to zero points in the second half. That’s pretty phenomenal and a nice silver lining to the loss.

All in all, this was a fun experience while my bet was still alive. I think I’ll take my talents back to Horseshoe Casino Baltimore this weekend. This time, though, I think I’ll press my luck with some NBA wagering.

Photo by PlayMaryland / Chelsea T. Johnson
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Chelsea T. Johnson

Chelsea Johnson is a seasoned journalist with experience working as a reporter for WJAC-TV, 105.7 The Fan WJZ-FM, and FOX Sports Radio in Washington, DC. Her work also includes making an impact in the top newsrooms in the country at WBAL-TV in Baltimore and ESPN in Bristol, CT.

View all posts by Chelsea T. Johnson