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Mobile options for retail sports betting in Maryland have yet to get going

Nearly a year and a half after Maryland voters approved a sports betting bill, Maryland’s sports betting industry isn’t fully up and running.

Maryland entered the sports betting world in 2021 with Gov. Larry Hogan signing a sports betting bill into law on May 18, 2021, around six months after Maryland voters approved the bill in November of 2020.

Hogan was the first person to make a legal bet in the state on Dec. 9, 2021, marking the start of retail sports betting in Maryland.

In 2021, Maryland collected $469,297 in sports wagering tax, according to Maryland Lottery and Gaming. The taxes collected go to Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund, a multibillion dollar investment that aims to help families in marginalized communities build a stronger workforce.

According to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, among the five live casino-based sportsbooks in Maryland – Ocean Downs Casino, Live! Casino, Horseshoe Casino, Hollywood Casino and MGM National Harbor – there was a total handle (the total amount of money wagered by betters) of $16.5 million dollars in December of 2021.

While Maryland has entered the retail sports betting industry, it has yet to enter the online space. This is largely due to the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) and its process. According to Legal Sports Report, “Part of the SWARC’s delay is their desire to run another disparity study on the industry.”

SWARC has the task of awarding up to 30 retail sports wagering licenses and up to 60 mobile sports wagering licenses, while actively seeking to “achieve racial, ethnic and gender diversity when awarding licenses,” according to their website.

The state has missed out on the online market for popular sports betting events, including the Super Bowl and March Madness. This means that Maryland has lagged behind in terms of revenue and taxes made in comparison to states with more established industries.

Maryland is one of several states that launched sports betting in 2021. Many of these states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming, offer versions of mobile betting.

Many neighboring states, including West Virginia and Pennsylvania, also feature mobile sports betting, with Pennsylvania looking at the potential of becoming one of the biggest sports betting markets in the country, according to Legal Sports Report.

States with mobile betting are seeing millions of dollars of tax revenue come into the state every month, including nearby states like Pennsylvania, with $11,302,201, New Jersey with $12,983,727 and Virginia generating $4,282,889 in sports betting tax revenue in the first two months of 2022 according to PlayUSA and the Virginia Lottery.

Mobile betting in Maryland has the potential to bring in millions of dollars in tax revenue, with potential estimates projected to be over $30 million a year with the state’s 15% tax, according to MarylandReporter.com.

“We are hopeful that these steps can be completed in time for mobile sports wagering to launch during the 2022 football season,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin said in an email. “Mobile wagering is essential for the sports wagering program to produce the level of revenue that the state is expecting, and moreover, we know it’s something sports fans are waiting for.”