Delegate Jason Buckel voiced his desire for more retail sports betting options across the state when the Maryland Lottery gave a 90-minute presentation Tuesday in front of the House Ways and Means Committee.
“There’s very few on the Eastern Shore,” Buckel said. “For Montgomery County, with 1.1 million people, there’s one in all of Montgomery County. There’s dead spots kind of all over the state.”
Buckel suggested to regulators that he’s going to introduce legislation in 2024 to reopen an application period for new licensees. Regulators suggested a wait-and-see approach to see how the market matures in coming months.
Maryland legislation allows for up to 60 mobile sports betting licensees. The law also allows for 30 retail sports betting licensees in addition to the 17 brick-and-mortar locations that were specifically designated in the legislation.
While the idea of small businesses adding retail sports betting as a revenue source sounds good on paper, those operating a brick-and-mortar sportsbook run the risk of bettors having a strong stretch, which could lead to monthly or even quarterly losses.
There are also costs associated with opening a sportsbook, and most small businesses need an outside operator to actually run the sportsbook given their lack of experience in the industry. Additionally, the strong majority of bettors prefer mobile sports betting to placing retail wagers.
For those reasons, most Maryland small businesses haven’t jumped at the chance to open a retail sportsbook.
Still, Maryland has 12 mobile sportsbooks and 12 retail sportsbooks currently in operation. Several of those locations are small businesses in the state, including Long Shot’s in Frederick, which is a woman-owned enterprise. There are even small, local mobile operators such as Crab Sports.
There are other operators in the pipeline to launch, including Bally Bet and Queen Sportsbook Maryland. Long Shot’s in Hagerstown is also expected to launch a retail sportsbook.
While Buckel asks for the opportunity for more sports betting growth, the regulator wouldn’t be surprised to see the state’s betting market consolidate in the near future.
“That’s just the reality of it,” Maryland Lottery Director John Martin said. “The numbers here are just not sustainable.”
Industry giants such as DraftKings and FanDuel are dominating the industry nationwide, and that’s largely true in Maryland as well. The two pacesetters are the only mobile operators in the state to surpass $1 billion in handle since online betting launched in November. FanDuel also operates two of Maryland’s 12 retail sportsbooks.
WynnBET has been one of the pending mobile launches, but the operator is unlikely to go live in Maryland after recently withdrawing from multiple states. Furthermore, a retail location in Boonsboro is struggling to find an established operator to help it launch, Maryland Matters reported.
PointsBet and Fanatics Sportsbook are each live in Maryland, but Fanatics recently acquired PointsBet and will rebrand it to PointsBet, a Fanatics Experience. PointsBet may eventually leave Maryland’s mobile market completely as customers are shifted to Fanatics Sportsbook.