As a resident of Maryland, I’ve watched online sports betting launch in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington D.C. As of Wednesday morning, online sports betting is now available in my home state.
With the launch taking place at 9 a.m., I spent the previous day signing up for three Maryland online sportsbooks: DraftKings, Caesars and BetMGM.
Here’s what I discovered about the process.
Sign-up process: setting up an account
All three apps had a straightforward and easy-to-understand sign-up process and account setup procedure. If you’ve ever purchased something online, you’ve been down a similar road.
During this process, DraftKings Sportsbook MD was the one app that added the extra step of downloading an additional app. That extra app, the “Player Location Check,” caused a delay in the registration process (I use a Mac). The app could not find my location.
After several attempts, I contacted DraftKings for help via email. They quickly responded and told me I needed to disable “Remote Management” under the “Sharing” settings. Once I disabled that, ensured Wi-Fi was enabled and verified the “Player Location Check” app was available under location services, my registration went through.
(Editor’s Note: Here’s some further information on geolocating and why it’s a necessary part of the process.)
Odds, options prior to Maryland sportsbooks launch
One thing I liked about DraftKings, which might be a plus for those doing odds shopping, is that the app allowed me to see all the odds the site had available before registering. The other two apps did not allow this.
For the Maryland Caesars Sportsbook, I had to register (but not deposit) to see all the odds available.
BetMGM Maryland, even after I registered and deposited funds, did not allow me to see the odds. Instead, the site kicked me to a screen that informed me that it would be live on Wednesday, November 23, at 9 a.m.
Making an initial sportsbook deposit
Much like the sign-up process, making a deposit was seamless. The deposited amounts showed up in my account almost immediately for all three apps.
Available deposit methods vary slightly for each sportsbook:
- DraftKings accepts: Credit cards, PayPal, DraftKings gift cards and Venmo
- Caesars accepts: Online banking, PayPal, ACH e-check, PayNearMe and Caesars Sportsbook & Casino Play+ prepaid account
- BetMGM accepts: PayPal, PayNearMe and Online Banking
BetMGM debuts shortly after 9 a.m.
At 9 a.m. on Wednesday, I signed on to all three sites via both mobile and desktop.
DraftKings and Caesars went right through, and all odds and bets were visible and available to me.
However, there was a lag with BetMGM on both mobile and desktop. Until 9:10, I received the “It’s Almost Time” screen. After 9:10, I got into the site on mobile and desktop with no issues.
Free bets, promo offers & rewards
The apps all have sign-up offers and in-app promotions for bettors, which are strong for the opening days of Maryland online sports betting.
After signing up through the PlayMaryland link, DraftKings’ launch promo offered first-time Maryland bettors $200 in instant free bets after placing a first bet of $5. The “instant” part of this offer was not an exaggeration. As soon as I placed my bet, I got a message that I had eight $25 bets available.
There were terms on these bets. The most important being that they were not redeemable for cash and had to be used within seven days.
The Caesars sign-up bonuses from PlayMaryland are a choice between the following promos:
- If you choose to bet less than $100 on your first bet, you get an additional $100 bet, win or lose
- If you bet more than $100, you get your stake back in the form of a free bet (up to $1,500) if you lose
I’ll report back about these.
In the app, Caesars had six opt-in bonus options available to me:
- 100% NBA profit boost
- First TD Scorer Token for a Thanksgiving NFL game
- First TD Scorer Profit Boost for a Thanksgiving NFL game
- NFL Profit Boost for a Thanksgiving NFL game
- NBA Parlay Boost available from 11/21-11/27
- Super Bowl Getaway is available for 11/21 – 1/29
Each of these bonuses had different restrictions. For instance, the NBA profit boost was limited to a $25 bet, while the two NFL scoring bonuses had a max of $50.
BetMGM offered four rewards with an expiration date of Nov. 30:
- 100% Bet Insurance Tokens for up to $25 on NBA
- 100% Bet Insurance Tokens for up to $25 on NHL
- College Football Parlay Boost Token
- NFL Parlay Boost Token
I should also receive a free bet up to $1,000 if my first bet loses, thanks to BetMGM’s First Bet Insurance sign-up promotion through PlayMaryland. Hopefully, I don’t need it, but check this story later for an update on how that went.
UPDATE: Somehow, the Detroit Pistons beat the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, so I did need my First Bet Insurance. The stake was paid back in a free bet right away, so it worked just fine.
Odds & options at launch
All sites offered a full complement of betting options, especially for major sports and events like NBA, NFL, NHL and the World Cup. In addition to the expected moneyline, spread and total points options, the sites offered plenty of futures and prop bets, as well as live betting options.
As for the lines, all three sites offered the same line of the spread and points for the Thanksgiving NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and the Detroit Lions, while DraftKings had the best line on the Bills to win (-425). BetMGM was the best for the Lions to win (+350)
Placing a bet
DraftKings and Caesars had easy-to-understand betting procedures. They were more or less point-and-click and allowed me to input the amount I wanted to wager easily.
However, the BetMGM betting slip was a little cumbersome. It defaulted to a $50 bet for me. To change that, I had to click on the betting box. Another menu then popped up with different betting amounts. This felt like an unnecessary step.
However, once I took that step, the bets went right through.
I wouldn’t shy away from using any of these three betting options in Maryland.
DraftKings offers the most appealing bonuses for new users. Still, the method of deposit and who has the most attractive odds on a given event will also come into play when considering which site to use when placing a bet in Maryland.