Last updated: May 26, 2022
Sports betting is legal in Maryland, with a retail BetMGM Sportsbook at MGM National Harbor the first to open Dec. 9.
On Dec. 10, retail sportsbooks at Live! Casino and Hotel and Horseshoe Casino opened. A week later, Ocean Downs Casino opened its retail TwinSpires Sportsbook and Hollywood Casino opened its sportsbook on Dec. 23.
Online sportsbooks are likely a year away. On Nov. 17, MLGCA Director John Martin said online sports betting will not start until at least fall 2022.
State legislators passed enabling laws in 2021 to support the will of state voters. Gov. Larry Hogan signed sports betting in MD into law in May 2021, but the wait continues. Here is the latest from the front lines of Maryland sports betting.
What’s happening in Maryland sports betting right now
- May 24, 2022 – The Washington Commanders could be considering a move to Virginia, which might throw its plans for sports betting in Maryland into jeopardy. The team is allowed to open a retail and online sportsbook based on Maryland’s law.
- May 18, 2022 – The launch of online sports betting in Maryland may not happen in 2022 after all. A launch by the 2023 Super Bowl is considered a stretch by one industry source because of the continued delays.
- May 12, 2022 – Retail sports betting handle was $26.9 million in April, making $2.8 million on a 10.5% hold. That led to $415,801 in taxes paid.
- May 4, 2022 – Maryland’s regulators say they hope mobile sports betting will be live at some point during the 2022 football season, WJZ-TV reported.
- April 28, 2022 – There is high demand for sports betting at Live! Casino, according to Assistant GM Rob Tedesco. The casino launched with 28 kiosks in December and is already up to 61.
- April 21, 2022 – Greenmount Station and Riverboat on the Potomac are both progressing toward their retail sports betting launch, Jim Nielsen from Maryland Lottery & Gaming told the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission Thursday. There are several other betting applications under review, he added.
- April 11, 2022 – Maryland’s five retail sportsbooks took $31 million in bets during March with a 12.7% hold. After deductions, taxable revenue of $3.8 million led to $577,019 paid in taxes.
- April 6, 2022 – Maryland’s retail sportsbooks are just days away from accepting their first regular-season bets on the Baltimore Orioles.
- March 17, 2022 – One of the key steps in launching Maryland’s mobile sports betting market is in motion. A disparity study is finally underway but there is no timeline for when it may be finished.
- March 10, 2022 – Maryland’s five retail sportsbooks reported $25.5 million in handle for February. That’s down from the $32.5 million bet in January, though that dip is likely more reflective of a slower sports calendar in February.
- February 24, 2022 – The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission approved Bingo World for its retail sportsbook license, which now heads to the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission for final approval. Rush Street Interactive also received approval to operate Bingo World’s sportsbook.
- February 16, 2022 – The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission met to hear updates on the progress of a new disparity analysis and an industry survey that was released in January. The SWARC took no additional actions and a date for a mobile sports betting launch is still unknown.
- February 10, 2022 – Retail sportsbooks in Maryland took $32.5 million in bets during January, the first full month of operations. That led to $4.3 million in taxable revenue and nearly $650,000 paid in taxes.
- February 4, 2022 — There are only two true Marylanders playing in the Super Bowl this year, according to Play Maryland. Unfortunately, Maryland’s slow rollout of sports betting means anyone looking to bet on those players has to bet in person at one of the few retail sportsbooks open throughout the state.
Is sports betting legal in Maryland?
Yes, and the first retail sportsbook opened in December 2021. Voters approved legal sports betting in Maryland in November 2020 and state legislators passed bills facilitating wagering in April 2021. However, Maryland online sports betting is at least a year away, forecast to go live in fall 2022.
Right now, there are no legal online options for sports betting in Maryland. Only illegal offshore websites operate in the state.
The status of sports betting in Maryland
People wanting to bet legally on sports in Maryland likely do not need to wait much longer to do so. State voters and state legislators both approved it and the launch could happen within a few months.
The question put to voters in November 2020 was:
“Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and event betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”
Voters approved the referendum, giving the legislature a directive to figure out how to properly implement sports betting in the state and pass another bill in 2021. Legislation signed into law by the governor went into effect on July 1, but was still not enough time to launch before the 2021 NFL season started.
The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission approved a set of rules and regulations governing the operation of Maryland sports betting. Details for the rest of the pre-launch process still need to be published.
Maryland sports betting law
The Maryland sports betting law will create one of the most competitive environments in the United States.
Legislators approved a structure with two types of licenses:
- Class A licenses: 10 licenses reserved for Maryland’s six casinos, three professional sports teams/stadiums and the Maryland Jockey Club, which includes Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course. There is language for future licenses for potential NBA, NHL and MLS teams.
- Class B licenses: 30 licenses for other businesses with physical locations in Maryland that will be up for competitive bidding. Seven additional Class B licenses are targeted for the Maryland State Fairgrounds, four off-track betting parlors and two commercial bingo halls with 200 or more machines.
Holders of both types of licenses can apply for one of the 60 mobile wagering licenses. The state will revisit whether it needs to add more licenses in December 2025.
When will online sports betting launch in Maryland?
Online sports betting in Maryland might not launch until the 2022 NFL season, according to industry sources, including MLGCA Director John Martin.
Bettors in Maryland likely will have a good number of sportsbooks available to them in the future. With 60 potential mobile licenses on the table, many popular sports betting brands could enter the market. For example, Barstool Sportsbook likely will offer its app in Maryland. Parent company Penn National acquired a casino in Maryland in late 2020 that would pave the way for Barstool.
DraftKings and FanDuel both provided financial backing to efforts supporting voter passage of MD sports betting in 2020. It would stand to reason both operators want to take part in the market. Meanwhile, PointsBet found a partner in the Riverboat on the Potomac, an off-track betting facility located in Colonial Beach, VA. However, since the Potomac is part of Maryland, the OTB is considered to be in Maryland.
Recent Maryland sports betting news
Maryland sports betting bills
Retail sports betting launched in December 2021 at at least one retail sportsbook at MGM National Harbor.
HB 940 ended years of debate over MD sports betting when it passed in April 2021.
Of course, with voter backing already secured, legislators needed only to create the structure of the state’s wagering market.
The meat of the final bill, though, was stripped by legislators, who instead chose to refer the question of whether to legalize sports betting in MD to voters. One legislator indicated inclusion concerns caused the change.
Efforts to legalize sports betting in Maryland through the state lottery never materialized. A state Attorney General opinion that sports betting in MD would require voter approval scuttled attempts to avoid a constitutional question.
Maryland looked like a candidate to enact legal sports betting well before other states in 2018.
H 1014 easily cleared the state House. The bill would have sent MD sports betting to the ballot via referendum.
It died in the Senate without additional action.
H 989 served as the first step toward approving sports betting in Maryland well before it became legal in the US. The bill was designed to establish a task force to “study the implementation of sports gaming in the state.”
How does Maryland compare to Virginia and Washington D.C.?
The DMV area, as locals know it, features legal sports betting in each jurisdiction. Maryland and Virginia look quite similar, while Washington D.C. created quite a mess.
Both Maryland and Virginia made mobile sports betting legal. Mobile sports betting apps should largely mirror each other in Maryland and Virginia.
The states chose to allow casinos to participate, although Virginia remains in the process of siting and building those casinos. Tax rates and license fees are competitive with other markets, and Maryland’s law likely allows more operators to take part.
The District, however, is suffering through a sports betting disaster. Its council chose to restrict mobile wagering to a single app run through the DC Lottery. The council chose to hand the contract to lottery provider Intralot instead of utilizing a competitive bid process. Intralot created the GambetDC app, which has been widely panned for uncompetitive odds and inferior markets.
As a result, the temporary retail sportsbook inside Capital One Arena in downtown DC continues to outpace GambetDC on a monthly basis. A new option also emerged when BetMGM launched a geofenced app through a partnership with the Washington Nationals.
Legal betting options in Maryland
Aside from betting on horse racing and fantasy sports, only retail sportsbooks are open in Maryland at the moment. The first one launched December 9, 2021. Online sportsbooks will not launch for months.
There are illegal offshore websites that offer sports betting in Maryland. They do not have a license from any US jurisdiction to legally accept bets within the country.
Without protection from the state, these offshore apps can’t be relied on to pay out winnings and have been known to disappear with bettors’ money. The only safe and insured way to bet on sports in the United States is with a licensed operator.
Is horse racing legal in Maryland?
Run at Pimlico Race Course since 1873, the Preakness is the middle leg in the Triple Crown. Winning at the Kentucky Derby is the sport’s crown jewel, but that same horse winning at the Preakness creates the excitement of a Triple Crown contender.
Other racetracks in the state are Laurel Park and Timonium at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, both of which could have sports betting.
Maryland also has a rich history in steeplechase racing going back more than 100 years. The Fair Hill Races are the only US steeplechase event with parimutuel betting.
Most popular sports to bet in Maryland
Football is king with two professional teams housed in Maryland.
NFL betting in Maryland
The Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins play home games in Maryland. The ability to have betting at team facilities has become part of the battle for the Redskins between Maryland and Virginia.
MLB betting in Maryland
The Baltimore Orioles have the love of many Marylanders in Major League Baseball.
Being adjacent to Washington, DC, many people in Maryland have an affinity for teams based in the nation’s capitol. This is particularly true for the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals.
NBA and NHL betting in Maryland
Maryland doesn’t have any NBA or NHL teams, so many people in the state adopt the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals as their teams. The Wizards started in Maryland as the aptly-named Baltimore Bullets.
NCAA betting in Maryland
In college sports, the Maryland Terrapins basketball team figures to be popular for betting. The Army-Navy college football rivalry game also always draws a lot of wagering interest.
Maryland and Daily Fantasy Sports
Maryland was the first state to explicitly legalize fantasy sports in 2012.
Although that was well before daily fantasy sports were around, Maryland implemented regulations to oversee the industry in 2017. The next year, Maryland passed a law moving regulation of the fantasy sports industry to the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission.
Sites that operate in Maryland include DraftKings and FanDuel.
The minimum age to participate in fantasy sports in Maryland is 18. Operators are not allowed to offer contests on college sports.
Maryland sports betting timeline
Legislators approved a Maryland sports betting bill to set up the structure of the market after voter approval months earlier. It was signed by Gov. Larry Hogan in May.
The bill approved by both chambers creates a two-tiered model with Class A and Class B licenses. The Class A permits are for casinos and larger entities, with the Class B licenses targeted toward smaller businesses. Legislation also allows up to 60 mobile licenses.
Maryland retail sportsbooks started opening in December 2021. However, online sports betting in Maryland likely will not launch until at least fall 2022, according to John Martin, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency director.
After two false starts, Maryland came out serious about legalizing sports betting and voters ultimately approved it in November 2020.
Neighboring Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and Washington, DC, had legalized sports betting and legislators didn’t want Maryland to be left behind.
Maryland held a couple of early hearings on sports betting, and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder spoke with lawmakers lobbying for a bill that included team facilities.
In March, sports betting in Maryland seemed like a lock to pass after the Senate sent a strong message by passing legislation unanimously.
However, the next week, the House removed the sports betting operational details and turned the bill, turning it into a mere ballot referendum. The Senate reluctantly concurred with the House decision.
Del. Nick Mosby later explained that the House took this course because of concerns of inclusion.
Following a disparity study ordered in the bill, he wants the legislature to explore ways that minority- and women-owned businesses could participate in sports betting.
Bill sponsor Sen. Craig Zucker believed the chambers could have worked out their differences if the session wasn’t cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill would have legalized sports betting at six Maryland casinos, three racetracks and, potentially, a Redskins stadium and practice facility. The legislation set high license fees ranging from $1.5 million to $2.5 million, with a 20% tax rate that include 1% to the Minority Business Enterprise program.
This time, the Maryland legislature tried to maneuver around the need for a constitutional amendment at the ballot box.
In 2007, Maryland voters approved a measure requiring any commercial gambling expansion to appear on the ballot.
The state lottery does not fall under that requirement, though, so lawmakers tried to push for a bill to legalize sports betting at lottery retailers and racetracks.
That would have been to the detriment of casinos in the state, which made it unlikely to pass.
Near the end of the session, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told legislators that sports betting indeed does need voter approval, setting the stage for 2020’s efforts.
Before the US Supreme Court even overturned PASPA, Maryland tried to be one of first states out of the gate on sports betting.
Ironically given what happened in 2020, it was the House that overwhelmingly passed a MD sports betting bill that would have put the issue in front of voters years ago. The bill did not gain any traction in the Senate.
Maryland sports betting FAQ
Who will oversee betting in Maryland?
The Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency oversees gambling activity in the state.
Legislators in Maryland called for a Sports Wagering Application Review Commission to decide which applicants will receive Class B and mobile licenses.
Will mobile sports betting be allowed?
Yes. State law allows for up to 60 mobile sports betting licenses in Maryland.
You will not need to be a Maryland resident to bet but you will need to be physically located within state borders at the time of the wager.
There are some sports betting websites that say they accept bets from the United States. Are those legal options?
No. There are currently no sportsbook operators that are licensed at the federal level, which means all US sportsbooks are licensed at the state level. Any website that suggests betting from anywhere in the US is allowed is a website that operators offshore.
It is not legal for those sites to accept bets from US citizens and those sites offer no protection to those who bet on them.