You Can Soon Get A Drink, But Not A Sports Bet, At MGM National Harbor Sportsbook

Posted on August 25, 2021

Perhaps as soon as the middle of next month, you could be able to watch a game at the new MGM National Harbor sportsbook.

At that time, though, your only ways to spend some money there will likely be on amenities the casino currently provides along with beverage and foodservice. At least to begin with, sports betting probably won’t be on the menu.

MGM recently announced it plans to open up the area in the casino where it hopes bettors will one day place legal wagers in-person around or on Sept. 15. It’s a chance for Marylanders to get familiar with the space before Maryland sports betting actually goes live.

Details on the MGM National Harbor sportsbook

National Harbor has been zealous on this front and could be among the first to offer brick-and-mortar sports betting in MD pending regulatory approval. Until that time, it seems this space will be more of a sports bar than a sportsbook.

MGM applied for building permits to fit out this new area in April. While it still hasn’t shared many details of the aesthetics and amenities of the space, it should be near the casino’s food court. In fact, both the food court and gaming floor will give way to a small extent to make room for the sportsbook.

If MGM follows its patterns from retail books in other properties, visitors should find several viewing screens playing live sports. The norm for MGM’s retail sportsbooks also includes many seating options and full bars.

Given the proximity of the book to the food court, the sportsbook itself may not provide additional food service. Patrons might have the option to place orders from their seats, though. All that’s still tentative right now.

The same goes for the number of betting windows available at the casino and when those will open for business. It could be several weeks, if not months, after the space opens to the public for other purposes.

When might the sportsbook actually take bets?

It’s still too early to name an exact date. What’s quite certain, though, is that if National Harbor meets the Sept. 15 deadline, it won’t be in time for that opening. MD regulators still have a lot of work to do. That includes:

  • Allowing the public 30 days to comment on the draft regulations
  • Amending and finalizing the rules
  • Reviewing and vetting license applications
  • Approving licenses and inspecting systems

Thus, a realistic timeline eyes late this year or perhaps even early 2022 for online sportsbooks. MD Gov. Larry Hogan has pressed regulators to get sportsbooks live in time for the next round of NFL playoffs at the latest.

National Harbor isn’t the only space that could be champing at the bit here, either. Live! Casino in Hanover has its Sports & Social currently welcoming guests for other entertainment options like dining and watching games.

If/when approval comes, these areas and others in MD could be ready to start taking bets very quickly thereafter. For Marylanders, at least they’ll be able to catch a game and get a drink while they wait.

Photo by Dreamstime / Robert Kneschke
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Derek Helling

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