Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed the state’s sports betting bill into law yesterday, officially making online and in-person sports betting legal in Maryland.
Hogan’s signature makes Maryland the fifth state to officially legalize sports betting in 2021, joining New York, Arizona, Wyoming and South Dakota.
The General Assembly made HB 940 an “emergency bill,” which means it will go into effect immediately.
Maryland Sports Betting Immediately Legal
The Maryland Senate unanimously approved HB 940 by a 47-0 vote in April. The bill was amended to put a cap on the available number of online mobile betting licenses. The Senate agreed to limit the number of online licenses to 60, while the original bill called for an unlimited amount. The State General Assembly agreed to all amendments to HB 940.
The bill approves 60 mobile sports betting licenses and qualifies remaining licenses into two classes; A licenses and B licenses. A license will be the state’s larger casinos, horse racetracks and professional sports teams.
While sports betting is now legal, state lawmakers told Elite Sports New York in late April that sports betting would need time to ramp up. The hope is for in-person sports betting to begin in the fall and online sports betting to begin by Super Bowl LVI in February 2022.
Several Maryland casinos already started the process to prepare for the legalization of sports betting. Maryland Live! opened Sports and Social, a new $15 million, 212-seat, 13,775-square-foot facility that will serve as the casino’s sportsbook.
Maryland Live! has an active partnership with FanDuel. The venue will provide guests with multiple options to wager, including self-serve kiosk and retain windows.
The Maryland sports betting bill allows for brick-and-mortar facilities to apply for both in-person and online sports betting licenses. It’s likely Maryland Live! would partner with FanDuel to provide online sports betting for state gamblers when the system is approved.
Maryland Online Sports Betting by the Super Bowl?
Senator Craig J. Zucker, the primary sponsor of the sports betting bill, told Elite Sports New York in late April that in-person betting at Maryland casinos and horse racetracks should be up and running within the next few months.
“By this fall, the goal is hopefully for your brick-and-mortar facilities, your casinos, your racetracks, to be up and running. Hopefully your professional teams will be operational by the Super Bowl as well,” Zucker told ESNY.
Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director Gordon Medenica told ESNY the bill leaves a lot up in the air about the timing of license applications and the differing roles SWARC and his department will take in the licensing process.
“I guess in a perfect world you might be able to see the casinos offering on premises only betting in time for the upcoming football season, if not maybe in time for the Super Bowl itself. That is the best outcome. In total, the whole process as the bill requires is probably adding 12 to 24 months,” Medenica said.
In-person betting for casinos and horse race tracks will be a quicker venture as they have existing infrastructure to support sportsbooks, have completed background checks and will have partnered with companies who have already gone through the process of creating in-person and online sportsbooks, Zucker said.
Maryland sports betting is a good primer for how long it takes from legalization to launch.
Nov. 4: voters pass ballot initiative➡️April 13: legislature passes bill➡️May 18: Gov. signs bill➡️October: potential first bets.
— Sam McQuillan (@sam_mcquill) May 19, 2021