We have four-plus months of Maryland sports betting data to suggest that Maryland will fall just outside the top 10 nationwide for total money wagered.
Maryland sportsbooks handled $1.78 billion in wagers between Nov. 23, 2022, when mobile sports betting went live, and March 31. Nearly $1.09 billion came at the end of 2022 and January 2023, during the end of the NFL regular season and playoffs.
Through January, promotional wagers accounted for $158.6 million (14.6% of mobile handle).
Further to the west, Ohio launched mobile sports betting on Jan. 1 and has published its first two months of revenue statistics. In that time, its sportsbooks handled $1.71 billion in wagers, with $379.1 million (22.2%) coming from promotional funds.
Other states like Massachusetts and Kansas have also come on board since last fall.
While promotional spending will drop for all states in the coming months, let’s look at its role in each state’s rollout and how that spending fits into the bigger picture for sportsbooks and bettors.
Bigger state = bigger investment from sportsbooks
Maryland’s population is nearly 6.2 million, just over half of Ohio’s 11.8 million.
Looking into each state’s promotional spend, Ohio’s 22.2% of wagers was 52% higher than Maryland’s 14.6%. These numbers correlate strongly to state populations, though that only begins to tell the story.
Ohio’s two-month total handle of $1.71 billion is almost equivalent to Maryland’s $1.78 billion in more than double that time. When March’s numbers come out, it will pass Maryland and never look back.
This doesn’t mean anything is wrong with Maryland’s market. Ohio just presents one of the best markets to win right now.
It makes sense for sportsbooks to put more money into Ohio than Maryland.
Maryland seeing more promo investment than smaller states
Kansas has a population below 3 million, the 36th most populated state. Mobile sports betting went live on Sept. 1, 2022, and sports betting handle totaled $536.8 million through its first three months. Of that total, $49.9 million came through promo wagers (9.3%).
Between Kansas and Maryland, population size correlated more with sports betting handle than promotional spend. Maryland’s $1.09 billion handle through two-plus months was a bit more than double what Kansans bet in three months.
Maryland’s spend on promos and bonuses ($158 million) through that same period was more than triple Kansas’.
Why? Kansas is a less attractive market with no professional sports teams (both Kansas City teams play in Missouri.)
Again, it makes sense for sportsbooks to invest more in Maryland than Kansas.
Ohio sports betting launch was better coordinated than Maryland
Ohio and Maryland’s launches were both considered successful. However, Ohio got a faster start – numbers aside – due to a better-coordinated statewide deployment.
The Buckeye State announced its Jan. 1 launch date on June 1, 2022. That’s seven months of advance notice for sportsbooks to gain licensure and begin cornering the market with sign-up bonuses and other promotions.
Comparatively, Maryland announced its Nov. 23, 2022, date six days prior.
Seven sportsbooks went live on Day 1 of online betting in Maryland. As for Ohio, it began operations with 16 mobile sportsbooks.
Of course, this meant twice as many new promos for Ohio bettors to take advantage of, contributing to more wagers there.
Maryland sports betting has room for growth
Although it began with seven, Maryland’s sports betting law allows for up to 60 mobile sportsbook apps. Betfred Sportsbook went live in February, and SuperBook Maryland will soon bring that total to nine.
At the current rate of expansion, it will take years to hit that cap. That may seem counterproductive, but new sportsbooks will also be able to use Maryland’s promotional spending cap structure to their advantage.
Maryland permits unlimited promotional spending only in sportsbooks’ first year of operation. Starting in year two, it becomes capped at 20% of the previous year’s revenue.
Promotional spending is deducted from taxable revenue, meaning sportsbooks can invest as much as they want in year one as long as they are mindful of their bottom lines for next year’s limits.
Currently, this applies to every sportsbook in Maryland. However, the first seven will only enjoy those benefits until November, leaving a potential open window for others to enter.
MD’s slice of the sports betting pie will be plenty large
Maryland had the 13th-highest handle in the US in February with $325 million. Of the states with legal sports betting, it has the 13th-highest population, putting its sports betting market on par with its population. (Washington and Tennessee have more people and smaller monthly handles, while Nevada and Colorado have fewer residents and more wagers.)
Massachusetts legalized online sports betting on March 10, generating $568 million in wagers in its first three weeks. Its market will be larger than Maryland’s, but it also has a 13% greater population. It can also bring in business from neighboring Vermont and New Hampshire, where residents have either zero or one available mobile app.
While the Massachusetts Gaming Commission division does not release promotional spending, we can connect the dots. Its population is larger than Maryland (7 million), and its professional franchises are among the most storied in their respective sports.
Regardless, this is only the beginning. The US sports betting market is still comparatively young, even for states that have already reached maturity.
Maryland may have taken a while to bring mobile sports betting into the equation, but it did so with a sustainable future in mind. With that foundation, it will hold its own just fine.