Maryland voters approved a ballot measure that legalized sports betting in 2020. The ballot question was a simple “yes” or “no”, and the answer was ultimately “yes”. The state legislature has since passed a sports betting measure and Govenor Larry Hogan signed it into law in May 2021. Legal sports betting should arrive in Maryland by fall 2021.
Sports wagering is already legal in every one of its neighboring jurisdictions. Maryland now joins Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. on the growing list of states with legal sports betting.
Best Maryland Sports Betting Sites
Maryland sports betting: A road map
The question on the ballot, which was labeled “Maryland Question 2” or “The Sports Betting Expansion Measure” — read simply:
“Do you approve the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and events betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”
For Maryland sports betting backers in the General Assembly, wagering would have begun shortly after the Supreme Court struck down the federal sports gambling ban in May 2018, which granted every state the autonomy to legalize betting. However, Maryland’s constitution prohibits gambling expansion without majority approval via ballot measure.
Maryland voters have largely supported gambling initiatives in recent years, permitting casino gaming in 2008 and supporting horse racing for decades — most notably the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.
Legislative “lens of inclusion”
Before legislation was passed but after the ballot measure was approved, it was expected that 10 or so sportsbooks would be licensed to operate in Maryland. Those predictions were wildly inaccurate. Turns out there will be up to 60 sportsbook licenses issued! There are not 60 brands operating in the United States, so this will take some doing. Maryland is set to create a unique, innovative regulatory structure that will allow mom-and-pop businesses to apply for a license. This could result in many independent operators accepting bets on sports without a casino partner.
The legislation was created with a “lens of inclusion.” Legislators wanted to specifically make it easier for women- and minority-owned businesses to enter the sports betting industry. Minority and female applicants will have the full support of regulators as they go through the licensing process. Other inclusive measures include licensed kiosks being available to small businesses in the state, the owners of which will pay a smaller licensing fee than their larger competitors. Maryland is the first state to intentionally expand the sports betting pie to include non-casinos and minority-owned businesses. The Maryland sports betting possibilities are intriguing to say the least. Pickles Pub sports betting app? Sure! Jimmy Cantler’s Riverside Inn and Sportsbook? Ok! Old Major Baltimore Beer Bar and Betting? Why not?
Maryland mobile sportsbook apps
While we may be months or even years away from totally filling the Old Line State with (potentially) dozens of sportsbooks, we do generally know which sportsbooks will be live in the state on or close to Day 1. This is because, in addition to the aforementioned small businesses, the state’s six casinos and the three stadiums that house the state’s professional sports teams were awarded sportsbook licenses that include an online “skin.” A skin is an existing sportsbook partnering with a licensed entity like a casino or sports team. So if the Orioles decide to open a sportsbook at Camden Yards, they can create their own Orioles Sportsbook or they can partner with a sportsbook such as DraftKings, which would be the Orioles’ online skin.
Here is a list of all the entities that will have a sportsbook license:
- Baltimore Ravens (NFL)
- Washington Football Team (NFL)
- Baltimore Orioles (MLB)
- Pimlico Racetrack
- Laurel Park Racetrack
- Maryland State Fairgrounds
- Timonium OTB
- Rocky Gap Casino Resort
- MGM National Harbor
- Horseshoe Baltimore
- Hollywood Casino Perryville
- Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland
- Ocean Downs
|Online Sportsbook (Projected)||Casino||Owner|
|BetMGM||MGM National Harbor||MGM Resorts International|
|Caesars||Horseshoe Casino||Caesars Entertainment|
|FOX Bet||Pimlico Race Course||Stronach Group|
|DraftKings||Maryland State Fairgrounds||Maryland State Fair & Agricultural Society|
|FanDuel||Live! Casino and Hotel||The Cordish Companies|
|TwinSpires||Ocean Downs Casino||Churchill Downs|
|PointsBet||Rocky Gap Casino Resort||Golden Entertainment|
|Barstool Sports||Hollywood Casino Perryville||Gaming and Leisure Properties (Penn National)|
|TBD/Unknown||Laurel Park||Stronach Group|
|TBD/Unknown||Fair Hill Fairgrounds||Fair Hill Races/Cecil County Breeders Fair, Inc.|
|TBD/Unknown||Rosecroft Raceway||Stronach Group|
|TBD/Unknown||M&T Bank Stadium||Baltimore Ravens|
|TBD/Unknown||Camden Yards||Baltimore Orioles|
|TBD/Unknown||FedEx Field||Washington Football Team|
Maryland casinos and sportsbook brands
Here’s a more detailed rundown on sportsbooks that could operate in Maryland:
There are no sure bets in the often times complex process of sportsbook affiliation, but it’s safe to say BetMGM will operate in Maryland. MGM National Harbor is one of the state’s most popular casinos, but the company also partnered with the Baltimore Ravens, which could make it the team’s online skin. MGM will be opening an online and retail sportsbook as soon as it can. It will assuredly use its own BetMGM app for its flagship sports betting product, which is already available digitally in five states and is pushing one of the more rapid expansions of any operator in the country.
Horseshoe Casino owner Caesars Entertainment will be opening a sportsbook, likely with its eponymous sports betting option. Following an acquisition by Eldorado Resorts, “new” Caesars also acquired William Hill, which already had an operating partnership with the company. Caesars announced in May 2021 that the company will be transitioning away from the William Hill brand and will be replacing it with a new Caesars Sports brand. Caesars already offers mobile betting in three states and retail books in eight states. It also struck a 2020 deal as ESPN’s exclusive line provider, furthering its visibility to millions of Americans.
One of the largest sports betting brands in U.S. market share, it appears it’s a matter of when, not if, FanDuel will enter the Maryland sports betting market. The Cordish Companies, owner of Live! Casino and Hotel, already has a FanDuel deal for its soon-to-be-opened Philadelphia property and it would make sense to do the same in Maryland. FanDuel has retail sportsbooks in 10 states, eight of which allow statewide mobile wagering, and typically is among each respective states’ revenue leaders each month. Expect FanDuel to become a market leader in Maryland as well.
TwinSpires or BetRivers
Ocean Downs owner Churchill Downs will most likely use its TwinSpires name for its digital and retail sportsbook skins. With statewide mobile operations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indiana, Maryland would be a no-brainer for its next market entry. Though it hasn’t quite reached the nationwide spread or market share of some of its sports betting competitors, Churchill Downs is positioned to expand to new markets in the coming years. Churchill Downs also has some dealings with Rush Street Gaming (Illinois), leaving open the possibility of going with the BetRivers brand that has fared better nationally to date.
Rocky Gap Casino Resort will get a license, but at this point it is pure speculation which operator the casino will partner with. Owner Golden Entertainment has an existing partnership with William Hill, but, as mentioned, Caesars will be phasing out the William Hill brand later in 2021. Caesars will be in the state regardless, so we don’t expect Golden Entertainment to partner with them. It is possible that Golden goes in an unexpected direction, possibly striking a revenue sharing agreement with a competitor, such as PointsBet, especially if it strikes a sweetheart deal. Now partnered with NBC Sports, PointsBet has proven very aggressive with its spending, viewing costs now worth it for increased national footprint.
Barstool Sportsbook owner Penn National Gaming expects to bring its notorious sports wagering media and entertainment brand to a growing number of states and Maryland would be a logical fit. Gaming and Leisure Properties, a real estate investment trust spun off from Penn National, owns Hollywood Casino Perryville and still has close ties to its former parent company. Located just a few miles from the Pennsylvania border, where Penn National is headquartered, the Perryville casino would make sense as the land-based home for the latest Barstool digital sportsbook.
One of the largest U.S. sportsbooks by market share and number of retail and digital locations, it seems certain DraftKings will find a way to enter Maryland. With no clear gambling affiliation elsewhere, the Maryland State Fairgrounds could be the vehicle to do so. The property’s facilitator, the Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society, will have a sports betting license, including an online skin, as the non-profit attempts to bolster its finances as attendance for its horse races wanes. State Fair representatives would unquestionably appreciate the chance to partner with one of the biggest names in American sports betting. DraftKings typically fights with rival FanDuel for the top of the revenue charts in the eight states that it has both retail and digital sportsbooks. It remains to be seen which partnership it would strike in Maryland, but it will inevitably do so again since voters approved wagering in 2020.
The Stronach Group, owner of both Laurel Park and Pimlico race tracks, originally thought it may have to share an online skin between the two tracks. The good news for them is that each track gets its own sports betting license. The question now becomes who will be a possible sportsbook partner. Stronach previously owned Horse Racing TV, which is now operated by Flutter Entertainment and known as TVG2. Along with FanDuel, Flutter owns FOX Bet sportsbook, and a possible partnership could be a boost for all parties. If not FanDuel, which may strike a deal elsewhere, FOX Bet would surely jump at the chance to own sportsbook a affiliation with historic Laurel Downs and Pimlico, home to the Preakness Stakes. and Flutter would likely choose FanDuel if forced to pick between brands, but FOX Bet remains a leading contender for a Maryland skin.
Maryland demographics and teams
Maryland has the nation’s highest median household income, fifth-densest population and, with just over 6 million residents, the 19th largest overall population. These demographic factors, plus popular sports teams such as the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, MLB’s Baltimore Orioles and the NCAA’s Maryland Terrapins, have industry stakeholders believing it could be one of the more lucrative per capita markets in the U.S.
Legal sports betting could also help Maryland keep gambling dollars within state lines. MGM National Harbor, located within eyesight of the Washington D.C. and Virginia borders, became the state’s highest-grossing casino in large part due to out-of-state visitors. The 2016 launch of Maryland’s newest casino helped compel Virginia to approve its first-ever commercial casinos in 2020 and D.C. to legalize sports betting. Now Maryland officials hope BetMGM, along with the state’s five other casinos and three largest horse tracks, can begin sports betting as a way to keep up their neighbors.
More background on legalization
Maryland was one of the first states to consider legal sports betting after the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban in May 2018. It would take almost two years before state lawmakers would pass a bill to do so — and even then, the decision was sent to the voters.
The court’s ruling in Murphy v. NCAA came too late in Maryland’s 2018 legislative session for lawmakers to finalize a sports betting bill that year. Backers in the General Assembly tried to pass a bill again in 2019, but the attorney general’s office determined any sports betting bill was subject to the state’s constitutional gambling ban. That meant voters would have to approve sports betting via a ballot measure, which couldn’t come until the November 2020 elections at the earliest. With no chance for final approval in 2019, lawmakers tabled the bill for the year.
In 2020, lawmakers again took up sports betting knowing that a failure would delay legal wagering until at least 2022. Despite bipartisan support early in the 2020 session, the COVID-19 pandemic cut short the legislative session and pushed lawmakers to curtail a more robust bill. They instead passed the limited measure that voters approved, giving the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission regulatory authority. All additional details were left to be hashed out by lawmakers.
History of legal gambling in Maryland
Though Kentucky usually comes to mind when Americans think of horse racing, Maryland’s history in the sport is nearly as rich. For 150 years, Maryland has bred some of horse racing’s greatest champions and hosted many of its most iconic races. Home to Pimlico Race Course, the nation’s second-oldest commercial horse track, and host of one of the sport’s Triple Crown events — the annual Preakness Stakes — Maryland remains one of the country’s more viable horse racing markets, even as nationwide interest wanes.
In more recent times, Maryland has been better known for a growing casino market. Since New Jersey brought legal casino gambling to the East Coast in the 1970’s, the entire Mid-Atlantic region has slowly embraced commercial gaming. Like several other states in the region, Maryland approved its first casinos within the first few years of the 2000’s. By 2016, Maryland had six full-scale casinos, including MGM National Harbor. Located near the borders of D.C. and Virginia, the property is the highest-grossing casino in the state.
As the region continues to expand its gaming offerings, especially after long-time holdout Virginia approved its first casinos in 2020, Maryland has looked to stay ahead of regional competition in an increasingly saturated market. The prospect of statewide mobile sports betting could help attract new customers while keeping Marylanders from crossing state lines to wager.
In the 1870’s, Maryland was a leader in commercial horse racing at a time when it was the nation’s only major legal gaming avenue. A century later it was one of the early adopters of a state-sanctioned lottery. With voters approving sports wagering in 2020 – as they did casino gambling in 2008 – Maryland should again be a relatively early adopter, this time as one of the second wave of states with statewide mobile sports wagering.
Maryland Sports Betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in the state of Maryland?
Yes! Voters in Maryland approved legalizing sports betting in a 2020 ballot referendum. The legislature then passed legislation to create the regulatory framework needed to bring legal sports betting to the state. That legislation was signed into law in May 2021. Regulators are now finishing up the rulemaking and regulatory process and have indicated that the sports betting will go live in the state by Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.
Who can place a real-money sports bet in Maryland?
State officials have not finalized eligibility requirements ahead of the voter referendum, but expect bettors age 21 and up that are physically located within state lines to be able to place a bet via a mobile device. There will also likely be certain additional eligibility restrictions, such as gambling self-exclusion lists.
How many online sportsbooks will be available in Maryland?
A lot! There could be about 30 locations that will offer retail betting via kiosk and, in an unusual move, the legislature approved a framework that includes the authority to approve up to 60 sportsbook licenses. Legislative leaders sought to bring minorities and women into the sports betting industry, and regulators will pay particular attention to ensuring small businesses and minority-owned businesses have the opportunity to apply for a sports betting license.
Can I bet in other states or Washington D.C.?
Other neighboring states such as Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania have already approved mobile wagering, but bettors may need to download separate apps when leaving Maryland and crossing into these other states. Washington D.C. currently only has one citywide mobile app which is run by the District lottery and is only available within city lines.
Will mobile sportsbooks offer bonuses for new players?
Yes. Maryland’s online sportsbooks will all have some sort of bonus offers. The leading nationwide brands will likely enter the market and will probably offer similar deals as in other states with legal wagering, including welcome bonuses, odds boosts and many more offers updated frequently.
What bet types and betting markets will be available?
Maryland regulators still need to finalize eligible markets, but all major professional and college sports including the NFL, NBA, NCAAB, NCAAF, MLB, NHL and many more will be available. Officials seem disinclined to ban wagering on in-state college programs, meaning bets on programs such as the University of Maryland should be permitted.
What options will I have for depositing and withdrawing funds?
Specifics over deposit and withdraw options are not yet finalized, but Maryland sportsbooks will probably allow at minimum deposits through credit cards, debit cards, ACH transfers, pre-paid cards, cash at casino cages and digital payment processors such as PayPal. Most if not all of these options will also be available for withdraws.