Gaming regulators took the first step Thursday in making a Maryland bingo hall the state’s ninth approved retail sportsbook.
The Lottery and Gaming Commission voted to give Bingo World a sports betting license by a 6-1 margin. The bingo facility is located in Brooklyn Park, just six miles south of downtown Baltimore.
Bingo World’s sports betting fate now lies in the hands of the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission. The committee must also vote in favor of licensing the bingo hall before the facility can start accepting wagers.
Maryland bingo hall already designated as a sportsbook
The SWARC still stands in the way of Bingo World becoming a licensed Maryland sportsbook. However, a rejection seems incredibly far-fetched.
Gov. Larry Hogan legalized sports betting in April 2021. The legislation designated 17 facilities for retail sportsbooks. Bingo World was listed as one of those 17 facilities.
As a result, it’s very unlikely the SWARC will deny Bingo World a license. Their next meeting is on March 16.
Despite eight current licensees, there are only five sportsbooks currently accepting wagers in the Old Line State. They are located at five of the state’s six casinos. The only Maryland casino without a sportsbook is Rocky Gap Casino in Flintstone.
Regulators gave licenses to three off-track betting facilities in Frederick, Hampstead and a riverboat in what are considered Maryland waters. But those properties haven’t launched a sportsbook yet.
Bingo World partners with Rush Street
Bingo World will partner with Rush Street Interactive for the potential sports betting operation.
Rush Street owns several retail sportsbooks at its brick-and-mortar casinos in Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois. All of which are under the Rivers Casino brand. The company will open another Rivers property in Virginia early next year.
Furthermore, Rush Street operates several online sportsbooks under the BetRivers brand. Its online betting operation is up and running in nine states already.
The company entered into a partnership with Penn National Gaming in February 2021 that guarantees the company access to the eventual Maryland online sports betting market.
Online betting still without a clear timeline
Rush Street will have access to the Maryland market, but it’s anyone’s guess as to when online betting will launch.
SWARC is still awaiting the completion of a disparity survey before it can move forward with rolling out online betting. The Maryland sports betting legislation mandated that women and minority-owned businesses must participate.
Once the survey is completed, regulators will decide if any further action is needed to increase participation from those groups.
Maryland sports betting is still in its very early stages, with the industry just launching in December 2021. Operators kicked off 2022 with its first full month of sports betting in January.
The five sportsbooks reported a total handle of $32.5 million during the month, which is healthy considering the size of the state. However, online sports betting always helps an industry mature and grow quicker.
For example, Virginia became one of the largest sports betting markets in the country with an online-only model that is just a year old.
The most optimistic projections have online betting launching by the start of the 2022 NFL season.