Last updated: October 21, 2021
Sports betting is legal in Maryland and could launch in the next few months, but it will not be before football season starts.
State legislators passed enabling laws in 2021 to support the will of state voters who chose to make it legal at the ballot box in November 2020. Gov. Larry Hogan signed sports betting in MD into law in May 2021.
The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency wrapped up a 30-day public comment period Sept. 27. MLGCA Managing Director of Organizational Compliance James Butler hopes the Maryland Register will publish final regulations by Oct. 22.
In August, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission passed forward the 17 retail establishments named in the legislation to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission, which then approved three casinos for alternative licensing standards. SWARC is working on guidelines to award the up to 90 competitive bid licenses.
On Sept. 21, MLGCA Director John Martin told SWARC he is optimistic for a late fall launch. In October 2021, Martin extended his timeline for online sports betting launch to up to another 12 months.
What’s happening in Maryland sports betting right now
- October 21, 2021 — The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission approved two more casinos for alternative licensing standards: Hollywood Casino and Ocean Downs Casino. Those two join the three casinos previously approved for the standards. The five casinos await final approval from the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission.
- October 14, 2021 — The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission postponed its scheduled Oct. 14 meeting. Members have not rescheduled the meeting. MLGCA Director John Martin told local media online sportsbooks might not launch for another 12 months.
- October 6, 2021 — The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission approved three casinos for alternative licensing standards. Those casinos already hold Maryland gaming licenses, expediting the licensing process. They now head back to the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission, which can award the licenses before final internal control inspections.
- September 29, 2021 — The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency posted the written comments from the 30-day public comment period for the MD sports betting regulations. The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission will now consider the suggestions before finalizing the rules for sports betting, which is expected to launch this fall.
- September 22, 2021 — The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency held a public meeting to hear comments on the rules and regulations. James Butler, MLGCA managing director of organizational compliance, said he hopes the Maryland Register can publish final regulations in the Oct. 22 edition.
- September 21, 2021 — The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission met to discuss the guidelines for awarding Class B and mobile licenses. During an update, Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency Director said he is optimistic for a “late fall” launch. The launch is likely just the 17 named entities.
- September 14, 2021 — The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency opens the licensing process for the 17 establishments named in enacting legislation. As those licenses are approved, they can open retail sportsbooks in Maryland.
- August 27, 2021 — The Maryland Register published the rules and regulations for MD sports betting. The publication starts a 30-day public comment period, which ends Sept. 27. The period also includes a meeting on the rules Sept. 22.
- August 16, 2021 — The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission met for the first time. The meeting was largely introductory and laid out the commission’s responsibilities. Commissioners did vote to move the designated licensees forward to the MLGCC. They will meet again in late September.
- August 5, 2021 — The Maryland General Assembly Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review approved the set of regulations and are submitted for publication in the Maryland Register. A date for publication is not known, but following the publication, a 30-day public comment period begins.
- July 15, 2021 — Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission approves a set of regulations for sports betting. The Maryland General Assembly Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review will review the rules before a 30-day public comment period.
- June 30, 2021 — Gov. Larry Hogan appoints Thomas M. Brandt, Jr. and Bert Hash, Jr. to the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission. Those selections fill out the seven-seat commission.
- June 10, 2021 — PointsBet Sportsbook secures access to the Maryland sports betting market via a partnership with the Riverboat on the Potomac, one of four licensed OTBs.
- May 19, 2021 — One day after sports betting becomes legal in Maryland, the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens announce that BetMGM is the team’s official gaming partner. The deal calls for the placement of signage and advertising for BetMGM at the Ravens’ M&T Stadium, as well as some other cross-promotional activities.
- May 18, 2021 — Sports betting becomes legal in Maryland after Gov. Larry Hogan affixes his signature to HB940. Lawmakers indicate that they hope to have Maryland sportsbooks up and running by the beginning of the 2021 NFL season or, failing that, the 2021 World Series.
- April 12, 2021 — After a series of tweaks in the Senate, Maryland’s sports betting bill, HB940, passes unanimously in the upper chamber, and its amended version moves through the House by a vote of 122-16. The bill now heads to Gov. Larry Hogan for his consideration and signature. The final version of the proposed law authorizes up to 60 mobile licenses, more than any other state.
- March 10, 2021 — HB940 passes the Maryland House by a vote of 130-9. The bill’s main amendments addressed a public perception that there was not enough local business involvement. Thus, the passed version of the bill contains provisions that expand the number of potential licenses from 23 to 37.
- Feb. 2, 2021 — A bill to legalize sports betting, HB940, receives its first reading in front of the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill, which was expected after voters authorized sports betting in the November 2020 election, also legalizes daily fantasy sports contests in Maryland.
- Nov. 4, 2020 — Sports betting’s arrival in Maryland takes a major step forward after voters approve Maryland Question 2 during the election. The referendum, which asked voters to approve or deny the expansion of commercial gaming to “authorize sports and events betting,” passes by a 2 to 1 margin.
Is sports betting legal in Maryland?
Yes, although it is still pending launch. Voters approved legal sports betting in Maryland in November 2020 and state legislators passed bills facilitating wagering in April 2021. MD sports betting could move quickly toward launch after receiving the governor’s approval in May 2021.
Right now, there are no legal 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 will go into effect on July 1, which could leave just enough time for sports betting to get up and running by the 2021 NFL season.
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.
MD 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. 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
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, there are no legal sportsbook websites that accept bets from anyone within the state of Maryland just yet.
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 expects to launch its legal sports wagering market by fall 2021 at the earliest.
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.