Maryland online sports betting nears potential launch before Thanksgiving weekend

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Maryland’s first online sportsbooks could go live before Thanksgiving after regulators Wednesday approved 10 operators to go live in the state.

Though members of the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), which approved the 10 operators, did not give a firm timeline, Wednesday’s meeting opens the door for a possible launch within the next week. FanDuel officials reaffirmed this timeline during an unrelated company event Wednesday afternoon.

A launch by next Nov. 23 would allow Maryland bettors legal online betting avenues ahead of one of the nation’s biggest week of sporting events, including the traditional Thanksgiving Day NFL games, a full weekend of college football rivalry matchups, as well as the US national men’s soccer team’s World Cup match against England.

Wednesday’s SWARC vote was the final major step before mobile wagering can begin, though all operators must still pass a controlled demonstration of its platform and systems, which includes live wagering by consumers at specific dates and times approved by regulators. This is typically a perfunctory measure, but the process could still take several days.

Maryland did not set a universal start date for operators, meaning approved books can go live as soon as they earn approval.

FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars, the four largest US operators by sports betting handle, all earned approvals Wednesday and are expected to be among the first sportsbooks to start taking bets. All four operators either run retail sportsbooks in the state already or have announced plans to do so.

Regulators also approved Barstool, BetRivers, PointsBet and Betfred, which also either operate sportsbooks in the state or are set to do so.

The other mobile operators are betPARX and the coming Fanatics online sportsbook. Fanatics is set to manage a retail sportsbook at the Washington Commanders’ FedEx Field in Landover, which could open before the 2022 NFL season concludes.

SWARC members approved all 10 applicants unanimously and without debate. All but Fanatics, which isn’t expected to launch its mobile sportsbook in any state until 2023, could start taking bets by year’s end.

An additional 11 sportsbooks have also applied for Maryland sports betting licenses and will be approved on a rolling basis, SWARC officials announced Wednesday, but there is no timeline for their launch. The next 11 books were not revealed publicly during Wednesday’s meeting, but that likely includes Superbook, which has partnered with the Baltimore Orioles and already announced Maryland launch plans.

Other likely sportsbooks included Hard Rock as well as microbetting-focused platform Betr. Maryland law permits up to 60 mobile sportsbooks, but it seems unlikely the state will ever come close to reaching that cap; only Colorado and New Jersey have more than 20 live sportsbooks, and several national operators in both states have ceased operations in just the last few weeks.

Maryland’s first legal mobile books will start taking bets more than two years after voters technically legalized mobile and retail wagering. The ensuing legislative and regulatory process was the lengthiest rollout of any of the more than 20 states with legal online sports betting.

Maryland was the last Mid-Atlantic state without at least legal retail sports betting. The state’s first retail books, which underwent a separate regulatory process than the mobile offerings, opened in December of last year.

The Old Line State will join neighboring Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Washington D.C. with legal mobile wagering.

About the author

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Ryan Butler

Ryan is a veteran sports betting and iGaming regulation and breaking news journalist based in the US. A two-time Associated Press Sports Editors award winner, he has reported on sports and politics since 2012. He has covered the gaming industry since 2018. Ryan graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Journalism and a minor in Sport Management.

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