With the recent launch of Crab Sports, Maryland now has 11 live online sportsbooks in operation.
We know that it won’t be the last launch. In fact, Maryland sports betting could feature as many as 60 operational online sportsbooks, eventually.
It may not be long before another joins the fray, as four operators have obtained proper licensing, and a fifth is at least halfway there.
Bally’s, WynnBET, Queen Sportsbook, Parx and Bee Fee are all in the process of getting started in Maryland. Their timelines for launch are unknown, and frankly don’t follow any pattern. But Maryland sports bettors should expect to have those options … one day.
What do sportsbooks need to do to launch in Maryland?
In the simplest terms, sportsbooks trying to go live in Maryland need to get the approval of two different boards.
First is the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission, which is a seven-person board within the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. The alphabet soup can get a little confusing, yes, but MLGCC and MLGCA are connected, but different. In this case, MLGCC is the important one, and it does a background check on the licensee.
Once MLGCC qualified, a licensee will need to be awarded a license from the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission. This is another seven-member board.
At the same time, the online sports wagering operator licensee that is working with the mobile sports wagering licensee, needs to become MLGCC qualified. This has generally happened around the same time.
For an example on the difference between the two types of licensees: Live! Casino and Hotel is a mobile sports wagering licensee. FanDuel is its online sports wagering operator licensee.
Once qualified and licensed, the sportsbook must document the following: internal control procedures, security and surveillance systems and procedures, technology and back-off systems, and a responsible gambling plan.
The final step is a controlled demonstration of its operations. This is a two-day dry run of the product, where real wagers are taken. You may remember Fanatics showing up on the May revenue report, despite launching in June. That’s why.
If they pass that, a sportsbook can set a launch date and begin operations in the Old Line State.
Online sportsbooks in Maryland waiting to launch
So who will be next? It’s tough to say, but four operators have met both MLGCC qualifications and received a license from SWARC. All but one of those four completed those steps prior to Crab Sports, however, so launches don’t appear to be imminent.
Here’s a look at the five sportsbooks making their way through the process in the order we think they’ll go live.
Bee Fee Limited
Bee Fee Limited is a company based in the United Kingdom that does not currently run a sportsbook in the US. That could change very soon, however, as it has partnered with Veteran Services Corp. (doing business as Vital Services Contractors, Inc.).
Not only does Bee Fee have a sports betting platform, it also has an online casino platform and is a slot game development studio and slot machine manufacturer. That could make for an easy transition if Maryland does legalize online casinos.
VSC became MLGCC qualified on March 23 and was awarded a SWARC license on April 19. Bee Fee became MLGCC qualified on May 25.
So, why do we see this as the next Maryland sportsbook? Of the the five, it’s the most recent to complete the three steps, and appears to have its focus solely on Maryland.
Queen Sportsbook, which is run by Queen Casino & Entertainment, Inc., is the one sportsbook on this list that has yet to complete those three major steps.
While Queen received both MLGCC qualifications in late April, it does not have a SWARC license yet. That could change as early as next month, as SWARC will hold its next meeting on Aug. 16.
Queen is not a nationwide company, nor does it have Maryland ties — yet. It’s based out of Delaware and has casinos in Illinois, Iowa and Louisiana.
It has a partnership with DraftKings in other states, but DK is already up and running in Maryland. We could only speculate on what a standalone Queen online sportsbook would look like, and that is the direction the company is taking.
The next three are a bit of a crapshoot as far as determining who will be next, as they all completed the steps long ago. WynnBET, however, is the latest of the three to receive its license from SWARC, which happened on Dec. 14.
WynnBET is live in multiple states, and its parent, Wynn, is one of the country’s biggest names in gambling and hospitality.
It also has a well-developed online casino product that is live in other states.
Parx has partnered with Greenwood Racing, Inc., and is also through the three major steps.
It doesn’t seem to be in any hurry, however, as it was part of the initial wave of licensees to receive MLGCC qualification and a license from SWARC prior to Maryland’s online sports betting launch.
All three steps have been completed since Nov. 14.
There’s a chance it’s waiting for online casinos to launch, as three of the four states where it is currently live — Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Jersey — are all legal online casino states. But right now, the betPARX Maryland website still gives the “coming soon” language.
The delay with Bally Bet launching in Maryland likely has very little to do with Maryland.
Bally is currently not live anywhere, as it deactivated all of its accounts in the states where it was running on June 30.
The website promises that it will come back after it works to “elevate your betting experience.” But there’s no timeline for the operator’s return, outside of a vague “over the next few months”.
So, the question appears to be less about if Bally will come to Maryland, and more if Bally will ever come back, period.