How Will Maryland’s Mobile Sports Betting Launch Affect The D.C. Market?

Posted on March 30, 2022

While the exact timeline is still unknown, the Maryland mobile sports betting market is expected to launch later this year.

Obviously, Maryland sports bettors will be excited to wager from the comfort of their own homes.

However, how will the rollout affect Maryland’s neighbor to the south? Will Washington, D.C. sportsbooks lose business once it is sandwiched between two states with online betting?

It is an eerily similar situation to when New York launched its mobile sports betting market in January. What was the rollout going to do to New Jersey’s industry?

New York launched retail sports betting several years earlier at upstate casinos. But the closest sportsbook to the Big Apple was a few hours away. As a result, a large portion of New York City gamblers made the short train ride into the Garden State to place sports wagers on their phone.

The trend would likely stop once New York permitted online wagering. It led many experts to believe that New Jersey sports betting handle would decline. When the handle drops, gross gambling revenue does as well, as does tax dollars for the state.

Key differences between New York and Maryland mobile sports betting markets

The main differences between the two markets are based on the states’ geography and population.

First off, New York City is home to 8.4 million people. That’s larger than the entire state of Maryland. By comparison, Baltimore, which is Maryland’s most populated city, houses about 585,000 people.

But if you were to look at the cities at scale compared to the market they could affect, they are comparable. There are 8.8 million New Jersey residents, which is roughly the same number of people as New York City.

Baltimore may only have a small fraction of that population, but there are only approximately 692,000 residents of Washington, D.C. In both situations, the city is roughly the same size as the entire market it could alter.

This brings us to the second key difference.

A short trip over the Hudson River is the only thing standing between New York bettors and the New Jersey mobile apps. It takes less than 20 minutes to get from Manhattan to Hoboken.

On the other hand, Baltimore residents would have an hour car ride through traffic if they were itching to bet in D.C. Furthermore, those in Baltimore have a retail sportsbook in the city at Horseshoe Baltimore.

It’s a stark contrast to New Yorkers, who would have to choose between a 15-minute train ride to New Jersey or several hours in a car that they likely don’t have to get to a sportsbook upstate.

Essentially, there are just fewer Marylanders who need to make the trip to D.C.

Comparing D.C.’s sports betting market to New Jersey’s

Since PASPA was overturned in 2018, New Jersey became the gold standard of sports betting on the east coast. It quickly became neck-and-neck with Nevada for the largest gambling market in the country.

Garden State sportsbooks handled more than $1 billion worth of wagers for five straight months before totaling $985.6 million last February. The overwhelming majority of those bets were placed online at one of the 22 sports betting apps in the state.

Unlike New Jersey, D.C.’s sports betting market only has one mobile betting app called Gambet. It’s run by the D.C. Lottery and it isn’t popular.

In fact, the most popular sportsbook in the nation’s capital is a brick-and-mortar sportsbook. The Caesars Sportsbook at Capital One Arena is typically the highest-grossing sportsbook in Washington, D.C.

In February, just 20.4% of D.C.’s total sports betting handle was placed on the app. Gambet accepted $3.9 million worth of wagers, while Caesars Sportsbook handled $11.3 million.

MonthNew Jersey Sports Betting Handle Washington, D.C. Sports Betting Handle
November 2021 $1.26 Billion $21.4 Million
December 2021 $1.2 Billion $19.2 Million
January 2022 $1.35 Billion $18.6 Million
February 2022$985.6 Million $19.1 Million

It’s clear that Maryland natives were content betting at one of the state’s five retail sportsbooks instead of traveling into D.C. to bet online.

How did New Jersey fare when New York launched?

Before mentioning what type of numbers New Jersey posted, it’s important to note New York’s results.

Statewide online betting launched on Jan. 8. So, sportsbooks only had about three weeks to operate before sending revenue reports to regulators.

In those three weeks, New York sportsbooks reported $1.69 billion in total sports betting handle. Of that, $1.67 billion came from mobile apps and online betting. There was no reason to travel to New Jersey.

That seems like awful news for the New Jersey market, right?

Wrong. Despite the New York launch, New Jersey posted a $1.35 billion handle in January.

Sure, New Jersey sportsbooks snapped their $1 billion monthly handle streak in February. But New York’s sports betting handle dipped as well. A shorter month coupled with fewer playoff football games to wager on is a recipe for a month-over-month decline.

What will happen to D.C. when Maryland mobile sports betting launches?

In short, not much.

New Jersey appeared to be in much more danger of an overall market dip from New York’s competition than Washington, D.C. is from Maryland.

The Empire State is a larger market with a major metropolitan area on New Jersey’s border. New Jersey’s market was heavily reliant on mobile betting to maintain current levels.

Maryland is a larger market than Washington, but D.C. wasn’t drawing the betting crowd from Baltimore. In addition, Washington’s online betting operation makes up a much smaller percentage of the overall handle than New Jersey’s.

If New Jersey can withstand New York’s launch, I don’t think there’s any material shift in the Washington, D.C. market when Maryland hops online.

Photo by Shutterstock / Marko Aliaksandr
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Steve Schult

Steve Schult has covered the gambling world for the last decade. With stints as a staff writer for the World Series of Poker and Bluff Magazine, as well as the online content manager for Card Player Media, the New York native covered high-stakes poker tournaments and the overall casino industry. He’ll shift most of his focus to the Virginia, Maryland and Florida markets as a managing editor for Catena Media.

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