Sports betting is underway at live casinos in Maryland, but it’s sometimes a pain to make the drive to one of the locations. Online sports betting is in the works for Maryland, but progress continues to move slowly. Meanwhile, sports bettors in Maryland who would like to wager from home do have one legal option — daily fantasy sports contests.
DFS isn’t exactly the same as traditional sports betting, but it does involve money and sports. If you are interested in trying daily fantasy sports in Maryland, you’re in luck, as there are several sites available. This page has all the relevant information about what’s happening with DFS in the state, and if you’re new to daily fantasy sports, we’ll also walk you through how to get started entering DFS contests.
Is daily fantasy sports legal in Maryland?
Yes, daily fantasy sports contests are legal to play in Maryland. In fact, Maryland essentially confirmed the legality of DFS back in 2012 when lawmakers passed a bill clarifying that the state’s gambling laws did not apply to daily fantasy sports. Additional DFS regulations went into effect in 2017, adding a few more guidelines for DFS providers, although the state-imposed no licensing fees or revenue taxes.
In 2021 came the passage of a new sports betting bill, HB 940, that also explicitly legalizes fantasy sports while adding guidelines for regulation, licensing fees, and taxation. As the law states, DFS sites must register with the gambling commission before doing business in Maryland. They must also pay 15% of their revenues as a tax for the privilege.
In terms of oversight, the law places the regulation of the industry under the care of the Maryland State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency. The bill contains the following language:
The bill requires a fantasy competition to register with SLGCC before offering a fantasy competition or related services in the State.
The registration requirement for DFS operators is important because it establishes a set of standards to which DFS operators must adhere. In other words, as long as you stick to the list of approved vendors in the state, you have the same consumer protections as you would for any other type of business.
DFS apps available in Maryland
The following entities are registered and can legally offer DFS in Maryland:
- Bid Ventures Inc.
- DataForce Fantasy Football
- Fantasy Football Players Championship
- Fulltime Fantasy Sports
- OwnersBox 3.0 Corp.
- RealTime Fantasy Sports Inc.
- SportsHub Games Network
- Two Nine Sports (dba Stat Hero)
- Underdog Sports Inc.
- Yahoo Fantasy Sports Players Fund
There are plenty of recognizable names on the list, including industry leaders DraftKings and FanDuel. You may, however, see some notable absences. We recommend that you stick to this list, even if a site has a good reputation while operating in other states. It’s unlikely to be a problem, but there’s no reason to take even a slight risk when you have so many options available.
Joining a DFS site in Maryland
No matter your skill level or choice of DFS site, the procedure for starting to play is going to be similar. Generally speaking, you will start with some or all of the following four steps:
- Sign up
- Deposit money
Let’s go over what each step entails.
This step only applies if you plan to use a phone or tablet to play DFS rather than a desktop or laptop computer. You’ll need to get your chosen DFS app installed. To start with, head to the DFS site and select the correct download link — either iOS or Android — for your device.
Then, you should find yourself in a familiar place, a normal download page for the app that is identical in structure to any other app download page you’ve used in the past. Once you select the button to begin the download, installation should be automatic.
Select the sign-up/register button at the top of the page. If you don’t see such a button, try the login button and then select the option for people who are new to the site.
This should take you to the registration form. Be prepared to enter your name, email address, phone number, date of birth, Social Security number, preferred username, and password. There may also be a spot to enter a code to qualify for the site’s welcome bonus if one is necessary.
After you enter all your relevant information, you can submit it to create your new account. Keep your login details safe and secure, as your account contains some sensitive information.
Start by heading to the cashier. You can do so either from the main lobby or from your account page, depending on the app. Some apps will even route you to the deposit screen directly when you submit your information to sign up for an account, but don’t feel as though you have to deposit right away.
Most DFS sites offer a variety of methods for you to use to deposit. Options like credit cards, debit cards, electronic checks, PayPal, Skrill, and prepaid cards are all common choices. Select the one with which you are most comfortable. If you cannot find a deposit method that works for you, it’s probably best to try another site.
Also, if the site does require a bonus code, you may need to enter that code when you make your first deposit, rather than at registration.
Depositing should only take a few seconds for most customers. After that, it’s time to find your first contest. Click back to the main lobby and see what options are available. Keep reading to learn more about the various DFS contests you can try.
How MD daily fantasy sports contests work
DFS operates as a sped-up version of the traditional fantasy sports contests that sometimes last weeks or an entire season. As the name indicates, these contests are “daily” and in most cases begin and end in a single day.
Each contestant pays a flat fee to enter. Each contestant selects from a pool of athletes playing real-world games sometime in the near future. Contestants then receive points whenever one of their chosen athletes achieves a predetermined statistic or accomplishment. The contestant who accrues the most points wins the contest.
The payouts for top finishers vary according to the buy-ins of each contestant. The DFS site pays out based upon an established structure that is usually related to the number of contestants in the field. The site also keeps a small portion of the prize pool for itself as its fee.
It’s important to understand that fantasy sports betting is similar to poker and sports betting in the sense that it is possible to turn a long-term profit as a DFS player. There are professional DFS players out there, and they are quite good at these contests. You’ll find some sites that divide amateurs and professionals as best they can based on the performance of each account. Pros are also typically going to stick to the contests with higher buy-ins, so you are generally going to be playing with other amateurs as long as you keep to the lower-stakes games.
The different types of DFS contests
The most common types of contests that you will find are listed below, but be aware that the names of these contests may not be universal across the entire board of daily fantasy sports sites in Maryland. If you happen to encounter a type of contest you’ve never seen, you can either do a bit of research to find out more about it, or you can simply avoid it. Above all, don’t pay your money until you understand what you’re seeing.
- 50/50 — The top half of the leaderboard receives a payout of some sort. The prize for top placement is usually much lower than usual because so many people are receiving a share.
- Beat the score — The site establishes a minimum point threshold for you to beat. Those who do receive a payout, and those who do not reach the mark lose their buy-ins. All payouts are equal.
- Beginner — For players with no wins and who have participated in fewer than a set number of contests. Similar to a maiden race in horse racing.
- Best ball — Contestants select their teams and must monitor their players throughout the course of the season. If you are an experienced fantasy sports player, this format is likely to be the most familiar.
- Casual — Typically these contests are for those who have played a certain number of times (50, for example) without winning.
- Designated number of players — Most DFS contests are open to, essentially, an unlimited number of players. This type of contest, on the other hand, sets a hard cap on the number of contestants who can play. If you’re an online poker player, this format is quite similar to a multi-table sit and go tournament.
- Head-to-head — Instead of competing against many players in a contest, you are only competing against a single player, not unlike a game of heads-up poker. In a sense, this type of game is easier, as you must only surpass the performance of one other player. However, be aware that there are DFS players who specialize in these types of contests and are incredibly good at them, so the path to profitability might be longer than you think.
- In-game showdowns — You can still start a DFS contest after the actual games begin. In-game showdowns use only the performances of athletes during the second half of play.
- Tournament — A DFS tournament is not much different from a regular contest save for one wrinkle: a guaranteed prize pool. These guarantees incentivize a large number of contestants, as the prizes tend to be quite large. Be aware, however, that a chance to eat a big meal brings the big predators, and there will often be some very good players vying for a piece of the prize.
Common formats for DFS contests
In addition to the different types of DFS contests that you’ll find on Maryland DFS sites, there are also different formats. These formats don’t affect the actual composition of the contest itself, but rather dictate the manner in which you’ll draft your team. Here are the most common formats:
- Classic — The order in which you and your opponents draft your players is randomly set by the site and does not change. All contestants have a salary cap, and all available athletes have an assigned dollar amount. Contestants must draft players without exceeding their team’s cap.
- Snake — Also a draft format, except at the end of each draft round, the selection order flips. That means whoever picked last in the first round is able to pick first in the second round and so on.
- Tiers — The site places each available athlete in a tier based on that athlete’s level of proficiency. Contestants don’t have a salary cap. Instead, they can pick just one player from each of the available tiers.
- Single-game/showdown — Contestants’ salary caps are limited and their selections are confined to athletes from a single game.
Maryland daily fantasy sports FAQ
Are daily fantasy sports contests legal in Maryland?
Yes, DFS contests are legal in Maryland, with the passage of a sports betting bill in 2021 (HB 940) further confirming the legality and outlining guidelines for DFS providers.
Is DFS gambling?
It’s hard to say because there are elements of both skill and luck in DFS. However, from a Marylander’s point of view, it doesn’t really matter. For many years the state has considered fantasy sports outside of state gambling law, and now the law explicitly considers DFS legal.
How old do I have to be to play DFS in Maryland?
You must be at least 18 years old to play daily fantasy sports in Maryland. In 2017, Maryland made that minimum age requirement part of its guidelines for DFS.
Do I have to be a resident of Maryland to play DFS contests in the state?
No, you do not need to be a Maryland resident to play DFS contests inside the state.
Can I play on Maryland DFS sites from outside Maryland?
Yes and no. You cannot play a contest across state lines, but many of the same sites are legal in other states, which means you can log in and enter contests from anywhere the sites are available.
Are DraftKings and FanDuel available in Maryland?
Yes. Both of the two biggest and best DFS sites are available in Maryland.