There has been a fight stirred up in Maryland by online sportsbook operators and state regulators.
Despite numerous sportsbooks submitting many different recommendations, none have been approved by Maryland regulators.
This current battle has the sportsbooks asking regulators to loosen restrictions placed on promotional advertising. Maryland regulators, meanwhile, want to make sure they limit any negative repercussions.
Let’s take a look at what Maryland sportsbooks hoped to accomplish and why state regulators have shot it down.
Maryland Sportsbooks wanted new process for evaluating promos
The biggest issue sportsbooks operating in Maryland have brought up is the systems in place for inspecting promotional offers before they can be released to the public.
As reported by The Baltimore Sun, these Maryland sportsbooks specifically asked the state to, “lift a regulation that requires them to submit a description of any promotional offer, along with its terms and conditions, to gambling regulators for inspection at least two days before putting it into effect.”
The reason Maryland sportsbooks have identified this specific regulation is because it limits their ability to send out targeted promotions immediately following large games or events. For example in Maryland, an online sportsbook could not put out an immediate promotion or offer after the announcement of the Baltimore Ravens 2023 schedule unless the promotion itself was cleared in the few days prior.
To combat this issue, these sportsbooks proposed a change to the regulation. Instead of having promotions inspected the two days after being created, sportsbooks instead want to submit their promotions within five days of releasing them.
So, why did regulators decide this was not in the best interest of the state of Maryland?
Why did the state of Maryland reject sportsbook promotion changes?
While these promotions are extremely valuable to online sportsbooks, legislators and regulators in Maryland feel there need to be safeguards installed to ensure these promotions and the language surrounding their advertising do not negatively impact the community.
That is why when Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency was presented with an alternative that included no advance screening of these promotions by sportsbooks, Maryland regulators stuck with their initial answer of ‘no’.
Despite the fact that the MLGCA has encouraged sportsbook operators to suggest amendments to the current sports betting regulation, all of the many recommendations made by these sportsbooks have been turned down.
In addition to losing the fight over the timing of promotions being released, Maryland sportsbooks were unable to convince the MLGCA to lift the cap on how much promotional money they can allocate toward players. Sportsbooks were also turned down when they petitioned against the prohibition of words like, “risk-free,” or, “free,” when referring to promotional bets. Prior to that recommendation, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency had sent out a notice to sportsbook operators that read like this:
“Please share this with your marketing teams. We have deemed the ‘Risk-Free’ language used in sports betting promotions as predatory. Going forward it shall not be allowed to be included in any Maryland-specific advertising or promotions.”
Maryland legislators also approved two new sportsbook marketing laws which effectively end sportsbook partnerships with colleges or universities in Maryland.
Maryland sportsbooks spent $10.8 million on promos in May
In this midst of this battle for leverage between sportsbook operators and the state of Maryland, sports betting in the state remains strong.
There was more than $305 million wagered on sports via online sportsbooks in the month of May. That included $10.9 million in promotional plays.
More than $4.6 million in tax revenue for the state was created by Maryland sportsbooks in May.