Two more Maryland online sports betting licenses advanced following launch

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Maryland regulators advanced two more sports betting licenses this week, just days after the state launched its first online sportsbooks.

Licenses for WynnBet and Bally Bet were both advanced by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. Each will have to earn further approval from the state’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), a separate regulatory body, which is expected in the coming weeks.

Both online books could go live in the first half of next calendar year. Maryland’s first seven licensed online sportsbooks started taking bets in November.

WynnBet has scaled back its aggressive online sports betting expansion plans after the company failed to capture significant market share despite a high-profile advertising blitz. The company has refocused its expansion plans to a handful of key states instead of the massive nationwide campaign undertaken by some of its rivals.

WynnBet is live in nine states, roughly half as many as market share leaders FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM. Wynn hasn’t launched its online gaming platform in a new state in nearly a year.

Instead, Wynn has focused on legalized online casino gaming markets as well as states that complement its brick-and-mortar properties. WynnBet is set to go live in Massachusetts, where it operates Encore Boston Harbor, as early as March 2023.

Maryland has shown little political appetite for online casino gaming, but it has the highest median per capita income of any state and one of the nation’s highest education levels, factors that correlate positively with sports betting participation. It also has several high-profile professional and college sports teams.

Meanwhile Bally Bet continues its ambitious expansion plans with the Maryland license application but it too has not reached the nationwide market share of many of its rivals.

Bally Bet is live in six states, though it publicly has indicated plans to dramatically grow that total. The company has slowly expanded into new markets as it integrates its in-house tech platform.

The digital gaming arm of the former Twin River Casino company, Bally Bet is part of a series of larger corporate moves that comprises several brick-and-mortar gaming properties (including a resort-style casino in downtown Chicago) as well as a branding rights deal with several dozen regional sports networks.

Both Bally Bet and WynnBet are expected to go live in Ohio, possibly as early as the state’s Jan. 1 universal go-live date.

The two newest prospective licensees join the seven sportsbooks already taking bets as well as three more that have already earned full licensure. Regulators have indicated there are 11 more applicants under review, which presumably includes WynnBet and Bally Bet. SuperBook, which has partnered with the Baltimore Orioles, is also likely to go live in the state with online wagering sometime next year.

FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM as well as Caesars, which combined make up more than 80% of the US sports betting market by handle, have all launched in Maryland. PointsBet, Barstool and BetRivers, other big-name brands, have also started taking bets.

All seven live online sportsbooks either operate retail sportsbooks in the state or have announced plans to do so. It was not clear if Bally’s or Wynn would follow suit. Like virtually all other states with online sports betting, digital wagering is expected to make up more than 90% of the state’s total sports betting handle.

Betfred, betPARX as well as the pending Fanatics sportsbook were the three remaining sportsbooks to earn licensure. None of the trio have announced digital launch plans, but all three have also either operate retail books in the state or are expected to do so.

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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