Laying The Foundation: MGM National Harbor Begins ‘Sportsbook Enhancement Project’

Posted on April 19, 2021 - Last Updated on August 4, 2021

The bill legalizing sports betting in Maryland is still awaiting Gov. Larry Hogan‘s signature.

But MGM National Harbor has been laying the groundwork for its soon-to-launch sportsbook. The casino filed multiple building permits weeks before the Maryland General Assembly even finalized its sports betting bill.

According to a report in the Washington Business Journal (paywall), MGM has been requesting permits with Prince George’s County since early March to begin work on a “sportsbook enhancement project.”

The report describes plans for the MGM Sportsbook to be near MGM National Harbor’s food court, the National Market. Among the permits is a proposal to remove three National Market venues and to remove some of the casino area nearby to clear space for the sportsbook.

MGM National Harbor has not yet released details on the project but did provide a statement:

“We are actively building out a variety of experiences that will make MGM National Harbor the most cutting-edge destination in the DMV to watch and bet on sports. Details of everything we are developing will be shared in the weeks to come.”

Sports betting bill heads to Gov. Hogan

MGM National Harbor no doubt knew the day was coming for regulated sports betting in the Old Line State.

After Maryland voters approved sports betting via referendum in November, the General Assembly was tasked with creating the framework for the state to operate under.

The bill passed by the legislature April 12 allows for retail sportsbooks at:

  • The state’s six casinos
  • Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course
  • FedEx Field
  • Oriole Park at Camden Yards
  • M&T Bank Stadium

The bill also allows for up to 60 mobile licenses. Hogan is expected to sign the bill in the coming weeks. The Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission will then begin the process of selecting and licensing retail and online sportsbooks.

Maryland sportsbooks may open before NFL season starts

The expectation is that casino sportsbooks will be up and running by the start of the 2021 NFL season, although mobile offerings and sports betting at smaller venues may have to wait.

In terms of mobile licenses, they may not be available until a later date due to the proposed license selection process. Maryland’s sports betting bill creates the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), which will adopt regulations prior to issuing mobile licenses in an effort to ensure participation from minority- and women-owned businesses.

Off-track betting parlors, bars, restaurants and other venues will have to apply for a Class B license. Those also may not be ready to offer sports betting in time for football due to the selection process. SWARC will award Class B licenses and must consider their ownership and location before granting licensing.

Expect many major competitors to enter Maryland market

With the number of licenses offered, Marylanders should expect a majority of the major sportsbook operators to enter the market.

A number of the state’s casinos already have affiliated partners that would headline their sportsbook branding.

MGM National Harbor will no doubt offer the BetMGM product, which recently launched its mobile app in Virginia. MGM has also partnered with the Washington Nationals to open a sportsbook at Nationals Park.

Meanwhile, Penn National Gaming might leverage the Barstool Sports brand out of Hollywood Casino Perryville, which was purchased by Penn National in December 2020.

Ocean Downs Casino has associated with TwinSpires, and Live! Casino Hotel Maryland has a partnership in place with FanDuelCaesars Entertainment owns and operates Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and is finalizing a deal to acquire William Hill.

Photo by AP / Alex Brandon
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