Cordish Gaming Group President Rob Norton views Maryland sports betting as a regional market.
Norton believes Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland’s relatively central location in the state primes it to be a top retail sportsbook location for MD sports betting. But Norton also believes the casino can be a top location in the Mid-Atlantic, as it already draws visitors from surrounding markets like Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“We are generally excited about Maryland as a sports betting market,” Norton said. “There’s nothing like we have in DC or the surrounding markets.”
Live! Casino & Hotel is one of 17 entities named in Maryland sports betting legislation to receive a license. As such, the retail sportsbook will likely open well ahead of the up to 90 competitive bid licenses available in the state.
The 17 retail sportsbooks could open this fall, while regulators determine how to award the other licenses, including up to 60 for mobile.
MD sports betting as an added attraction
Norton is not too bullish on sports betting as a direct profit driver. Instead, he’s excited about its ability to draw more customers to the Maryland location of Sports & Social, the company’s national sports entertainment venue concept.
“We’ve said throughout the process, there’s not a whole lot of money to be made in sports betting,” Norton said. “The benefit we get is it will bring a lot of people and interest into the facility, maybe to watch a game, partake in the food and beverage and maybe play a table game or two.”
Sports & Social is already open and has sports betting windows ready to go once cleared.
FanDuel adds “second giant”
Cordish partnered with FanDuel for the retail sportsbook at the Maryland casino. FanDuel is also the sportsbook at Cordish’s Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia.
“With Live! And FanDuel, you’re really taking two giants in their spaces and putting them together,” Norton said. “We see it as one plus one equals three.”
Retail opportunity in Maryland
Live! Casino & Hotel could have a first-mover advantage, along with up to 16 other retail sportsbooks. The license application process opened for the 17 named entities Sept. 14.
Eventually, Norton believes the Maryland sports betting market will be up to 90% mobile as it is in newer legal markets. He also believes there is an opportunity for the retail sportsbook.
“We believe there is an ability to cross digital and bricks-and-mortar and create an entertainment experience,” Norton said. “As they play online, they can build rewards points and build affinity for the brand for special events, parties and Super Bowl trips, suites at Ravens and (Washington Football Team) games.
“We want to attack the sports betting market differently, leveraging online with the brand, not as an afterthought.”
First Maryland sportsbooks opening soon
The 17 named entities are likely to receive their licenses and open retail sportsbooks by “late fall,” according to Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency Director John Martin.
Last week, Sports Wagering Application Review Commission Chair Thomas Brandt said creative thinking is needed before awarding the other 90 potential licenses. That comment followed advice from Cezar Froelich of Taft Stettinius & Hollister to potentially tie mobile licenses to Class B licenses. There are up to 60 mobile licenses in the state.
“We have to take a look at the interplay between the mobile and Class B licenses,” Froelich said. “If you just go out and issue the Class B by themselves without taking into account that it has to be beneficial for a mobile sports operator, you could find yourself in a circumstance Class B don’t get picked up.”
The day after the SWARC meeting, a public MLGCA meeting about the MD sports betting regulations left more uncertainty as to when mobile might launch. PointsBet SVP Paul Hannon asked for a uniform mobile launch.
Operators in Maryland sports betting
Along with FanDuel and PointsBet, many major sportsbook operators already have a connection to the state.
Sportsbook operators with ties to MD casinos:
- Barstool Sportsbook
- Caesars Sportsbook
- BetMGM Sportsbook
- TwinSpires Sportsbook
The Baltimore Ravens partnered with BetMGM, Caesars and DraftKings, but there is no indication of an in-stadium sportsbook yet. The Washington Football Team and Baltimore Orioles have not announced MD sports betting partners yet.