Maryland online sports betting is up and running, with a handful of big-name sportsbooks off to a sizeable head start.
Seven online operators were part of a pre-Thanksgiving first wave of sportsbook apps to go live in the Old Line State. Three others are nearing the starting line, and two more are finalizing preparations for launch.
After waiting more than two years for legal online sports gambling, Marylanders could have a dozen digital options by the end of 2022. State law allows for as many as 60 mobile sports betting licenses, so that number will continue to grow.
But which online sportsbooks in Maryland are most likely to be the dominant players in a crowded field? Besides the usual suspects, will any other online sportsbooks seize enough market share to be considered legitimate competition?
It’s still too early to make definitive statements — and anything can happen in an unproven market. But, the data from other states makes a pretty compelling case for which sportsbook apps will be the top dogs in Maryland.
Looking at U.S. online sports betting data
Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018’s decision to overturn a federal ban, 31 states and Washington, D.C., have decided to regulate and tax sports gambling. More than 45 commercial and tribal sportsbook operators have opened legal shops in the U.S.
In most of the 22 states (and D.C.) where online sports betting is permitted, a select few online sportsbooks have separated themselves from the pack.
According to industry research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars control nearly 85% of the U.S.’s legal online sports betting market. Only three other operators — Barstool, BetRivers and PointsBet — have a larger than 1% market share, and none are over 5%.
Coincidentally, those are the seven online sportsbooks currently available in Maryland.
Top of the heap in Maryland online sports betting
The “Big Four” online sportsbooks have several obvious advantages in Maryland. Brand recognition, massive customer databases and early market access give FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars a decisive edge.
Yet, even among those four, DraftKings could become the odd man out.
FanDuel (LIVE! Casino & Hotel Maryland), BetMGM (MGM National Harbor) and Caesars (Horseshoe Baltimore) can cross-promote between their land-based bettors and digital gamblers. This type of cross-promotion has been a valuable tool for customer acquisition and retention, according to gambling executives.
DraftKings, on the other hand, is not partnered with an MD casino.
Bally Bet and WynnBet also lack a brick-and-mortar casino tether, but they are both legacy brands in the gambling world.
Barstool Sportsbook could be a dark horse in Maryland. Hollywood Casino Perryville is home to a Barstool-branded retail sportsbook, and the two will continue their partnership online.
Can these sportsbooks compete with the Big Boys in Maryland?
BetRivers (Bingo World), PointsBet (Riverboat on the Potomac), Betfred (Long Shot’s), BetParx (Greenmount Station) and Fanatics (FedEx Field) lack the crossover ability to appeal to conventional casino players, but they should not be dismissed.
The BetRivers brand is growing, particularly in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The same could be said of BetParx, although to a somewhat lesser extent as it is still gaining traction in some jurisdictions.
PointsBet is, arguably, the most user-friendly online sportsbook app. Of this second-tier group of sportsbooks, PointsBet is the only one to establish national brand recognition because of its partnership with former NFL quarterback Drew Brees.
Betfred is well-known in European betting markets, as are UniBet and bet365 (neither is licensed yet to operate in Maryland).
Fanatics is best known for being the official apparel company of the big sports leagues. A gambling industry newbie, Fanatics is taking over the unsuccessful SI Sportsbook.
More of the same in the Old Line State
Maryland’s online sports betting market is unlikely to buck existing national trends.
Given nationwide results, FanDuel will likely jump out ahead of the competition and never look back. BetMGM and Caesars will tail the market leader, with DraftKings also controlling a considerable portion.
Barstool and PointsBet will then battle for bragging rights atop the second tier of online sportsbooks. BetRivers, BetParx, Bally Bet, WynnBet, Betfred and Fanatics, meanwhile, would benefit from joining Maryland’s online market in the early stages.
The first glimpse of which sportsbooks control the market will happen on Dec. 12, when the state Lottery & Gaming Control Agency releases November revenue and tax figures. The first full month of data (December) won’t be available until at least January 2023.