The state of Maryland has been diligently working through the regulation process for legal sports betting. The lofty goal of an early September launch came and went. However, the slow and sometimes painful process of going live continues.
One of the biggest causes for delay in many states is the actual licensing process. However, in states that already have licensed retail casinos, that process can be expedited. That appears to be the case in Maryland with three of its biggest land-based gaming venues.
The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission has cleared the three casinos through the initial licensing process. Those properties are:
- The Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore
- Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover
- MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill
There are still quite a few other hurdles to clear before they can offer legal sports betting in their casinos. However, there is a clear path to going live with retail sportsbooks in the not-too-distant future.
Gaming officials in the state believe that legal betting could be available in these three casinos by the end of the year.
All three are busy making preparations for when that day may come. Live! Casino & Hotel has already opened a sports-themed lounge to promote its cause.
MGM National Harbor has plans to open its sports betting venue by the end of October. Even if the house can not officially take bets, this should set the early tone for sports fans.
The Horseshoe Casino is busy renovating it first floor for its future sports betting venue. This property is owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment.
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Described as “an immersive entertainment” venue, legal sports betting will be the featured attraction. The venue will also include table games and a Brew Brothers-branded restaurant and bar.
The fact that MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainments, and The Cordish Companies are the ownership groups behind these venues is worth noting. They are all well established in the gaming and entertainment industry. This should result in first-class retail sportsbooks at all three properties.
The Maryland Lottery tends to agree. It has determined that all three casinos meet the necessary criteria to offer legal sports betting. The fact that they already hold Maryland gaming licenses is another important aspect of the legalization process.
The next step is gaining approval from the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC). As Director of the Maryland Lottery, John Martin released the following statement:
“We are pleased to have these three applicants approved and move them along to the SWARC. Our team is diligently implementing the sports wagering law, and we’re one step closer to the first in-person wagers, which we hope will take place by late fall.”
Along with these three casinos, Maryland law makes provisions for 17 retail sportsbooks across the state. The licensing process will also be extended to online sportsbook operators and other potential retail establishments.
This process will fall under the guidance of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission as well as SWARC. Additional retail establishments and online operators should gain approval in the coming months.