Launch ceremonies planned
Christmas in Maryland will come with extra cheer this year after two Baltimore-area casinos announced plans to launch retail sports betting ahead of the weekend.
Ribbon and scissors at the ready, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland are both planning launch ceremonies this Friday, subject to final state approval. Horseshoe Casino Baltimore took to Twitter with a Frank Sinatra clip:
Horseshoe will open sports wagering at its Caesars Sportsbook Friday afternoon with a celebrity-packed ceremony. Live! Casino, meanwhile, will hand the honor of the first ceremonial bet at its FanDuel Sportsbook to ex-Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed.
Friday’s planned launches will follow two days of controlled demos at each of the licensed casinos throughout this week, as reported by the Baltimore Sun.
Three casinos yet to confirm
In November, Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) awarded five brick-and-mortar casinos retail sports betting licenses — Caesars-owned Horseshoe and the Cordish Companies-owned Live! Casino among them. The other three included Churchill Downs’ Ocean Downs Casino, MGM National Harbor, and the Penn National Gaming-owned Hollywood Casino.
MGM National Harbor plans to launch sports wagering Thursday
According to the Sun, Martin confirmed MGM National Harbor plans to launch sports wagering Thursday, subject to state sign-off. While Hollywood and Ocean Downs have plans to roll out sports wagering, they are yet to confirm timetables.
Early festive cheer
The road to launching Maryland’s sports betting market was one strewn with multiple obstacles, with Governor Larry Hogan bemoaning the slow application and licensing process.
Now, at last, retail sports betting is finally touching down in the state. Live! Casino sounded like a kid counting down sleeps to Christmas Day in its Tweet cheering “4 more days until FanDuel Sportsbook is here!”:
Hogan will attend both Live! Casino and Horseshoe’s ceremonial openings this week. The latter’s event will also include Mayor Brandon Scott, former NBA icon Muggsy Bogues, and two ex-Ravens stars, wide receiver Torrey Smith and linebacker Adalius Thomas.
Horseshoe’s senior vice president and GM Randy Conroy hopes the launch will be “fantastic.” President of Live! Casino Rob Norton commented: “The big benefit is getting people in the building.”
A contentious issue
Maryland betting regulation caps wagering at $5m per sporting event. The wager limit proved a polarizing issue through the public comment period for Maryland’s proposed sports betting regulations.
DraftKings and FanDuel backed a no-limits approach
Problem gambling authorities wanted bets capped at $100,000, while DraftKings and FanDuel backed a no-limits approach.
Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCC) director John Martin said it was “an issue that we looked at from all sides” before ultimately settling on the $5m figure.