John Martin Reads The Tea Leaves For November Online Sports Betting

Posted on December 9, 2022

Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency director John Martin joined WNST’s Nestor Aparicio this week to discuss various topics, including potential numbers for the first days of Maryland online sports betting.

Reading the November sports betting tea leaves

Sportsbook apps went live on November 23, and the MLGCA will be announcing revenue numbers next week on Monday, Dec. 12 for the first partial month of online wagering.

The initial report will feature numbers from the first eight days of November activity along with stats from the eight hours of controlled demonstration that took place pre-launch on Nov. 21.

Martin told Aparicio on Thursday:

“I don’t have the official figures yet, but I’m already seeing some things here and reading the tea leaves.”

Let’s dive in a little further.

Maryland wagers could surpass $200 million in November

With the launch of Maryland online sports betting comes the expectation that retail sportsbooks will experience a drop in wagering activity. Martin said numbers will be lower in November than October’s record $39 million handle since many bettors no longer need to place bets at retail sportsbooks.

But overall numbers will produce new record highs due to increased online wagering action.

Before launching, MLGCA expected mobile sports betting to account for 80% to 85% of all wagers within the state. According to Martin, those expectations are spot on.

Combining both online and retail bets, Maryland bettors are expected to place nearly $200 million in total wagers. Martin said:

“We’ll roughly do in the low $30 million on the retail side, but mobile will be upwards of $180 million-plus when you look at the total handle.”

Meanwhile, overall sportsbook revenue will fall somewhere between $10 million and $20 million.

 PlayMaryland will report on official numbers as soon as they’re released next week.

Sportsbook app promos temporarily reduce Maryland’s tax cut

Each online sportsbook in Maryland has its own promotions and bonuses, such as free bets and boosted odds, to attract new members and gain market share.

Sportsbooks cover that promotional money out of their bottom lines — resulting in less total revenue at the end of each month. In some cases, promotional spending may exceed profit, effectively turning a profitable sportsbook into an unprofitable one on paper.

That also initially results in less money for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future public education fund. Since its inception in April 2021, Maryland casinos have generated $4.8 million for this fund.

Free bets & promos won’t last forever

While promotional expenses are a new issue for the state, Maryland has a plan for the long run.

Maryland regulation only allows sportsbooks to have one year of unlimited promotional spending. For future years, sportsbooks will be capped at 20% of their net revenue from the previous year. 

This incentivizes them to run profitable sportsbooks for the year, as a sportsbook that loses money will have a promotional budget of $0 the following year.

Most likely, new sign-ups and promos will level out around March Madness before reigning in the handouts to ensure a sustainable budget for next year.

So if you’ve yet to take advantage of Maryland’s massive sportsbook promo offers, there’s no time like the present.

Two MD Lottery jackpots currently sit above $100 million

And for those hungry for more lottery action after last month’s record $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot, we have good news.

The Powerball jackpot has risen once again into nine-figure territory, — sitting at $116 million as of December 9. Drawings occur every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday night, with the next on December 10.

Mega Millions currently boasts a $379 million jackpot with drawings every Tuesday and Friday.

Should a Marylander claim either jackpot, this would be the third Maryland millionaire of the month.

The MD Lottery is also bringing back its annual “Let It Snow” promotion for Pick 3, Pick 4 and Pick 5 players.

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Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby is a proponent of legal, safe, and responsible gambling. He feels fortunate to be able to contribute to the growing betting industry through his writing, primarily using his background in poker, sports, and psychology to do so.

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