Mobile Sports Betting Delay Could Cost Maryland $274 Million Per Month

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Maryland mobile sports betting could generate an additional $274 million in monthly handle. In its first five months, Maryland retail sports bettors wagered about $26.5 million each month. But in markets that introduce mobile sports betting later, that makes up almost 90% of sports betting handle. So if Maryland had mobile sports betting from the beginning, it could’ve seen an additional $204.5 million in handle each month. 

Maryland’s Gaming Commission doesn’t expect mobile sports betting to go live until sometime during the next football season. If Maryland’s retail sports betting grows by a modest 34% next season, it could see just over $274 million in additional handle each month. 

Maryland Mobile Sports Betting License Status

Maryland voters approved sports betting legalization in November 2020. The state legislature finalized the bill that resulted from that vote in April 2021. Finally, the first retail sportsbook opened in December 2021. 

However, mobile sports betting still has some hurdles to get over. Maryland’s sports betting bill requires the Maryland Gaming Commission to prioritize licenses for female and minority-owned businesses. This was an attempt to correct for previously failing to license a single female or minority-owned business when the state legalized marijuana. According to CBS Baltimore, Gaming Commission officials blame the delayed launch at least partially on “over-communicating” license requirements to new applicants. 

Delays between retail and online sports betting are common though. Michigan had a nine-month gap between retail and online sports betting. The Gaming Commission didn’t write the online gambling regulations until after Governor Whitmer signed sports betting into law in December 2019. Louisiana had a two-month gap partly because its online sports betting industry rules and licensing requirements were already written in House Bill 697. But there was still a gap between licenses being available and awarded. 

Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Committee (SWARC) is in charge of creating guidelines for mobile sportsbook licenses. SWARC is still conducting its disparity study. This study determines whether female and minority-owned businesses face barriers to applying for licenses. They will also look into what can be done to remove those barriers. That is all on top of finishing a license application draft set to be completed in mid-June. 

Due to these bureaucratic delays, Maryland mobile sports betting isn’t expected to launch until football season – and that’s being very optimistic.

Maryland Mobile Sports Betting Quick Facts And Forecast

How We Forecasted Potential Online Handle  

Some sports betting markets are almost completely dominated by mobile sports betting. In New York, mobile sports betting makes up about 99% of sports betting handle. Other states converge on a rough 90/10 ratio between mobile handle and retail handle. This is a common pattern in markets that offer retail sports betting first and introduce online sports betting later. 

After it introduced remote registration, an average of 88.3% of Iowa’s sports betting handle came from online betting. When Louisiana launched mobile sports betting, about 88.7% of its handle came from online sports betting when the mobile market went live. We took the average of those two markets, 88.5%, and treated the first five months as if they were 11.5% of total handle. Solving that proportion allowed us to estimate what online handle could’ve been from December 2021 to April 2022. 

To project the next season, we took handle growth into account. We used Iowa’s retail sports betting growth from the first peak season to the next. In Iowa’s second peak season, average monthly retail sports betting handle increased by 34%. To project Maryland’s upcoming football season — when online sports betting will hopefully launch — we increased average monthly handle by 34%. From that dataset, we performed the same calculation above to forecast potential mobile sports betting revenue with a 34% increase in retail sports betting handle.  

Why We Projected From Maryland Retail Sports Betting Handle 

Although retail handle is an imperfect gauge for mobile handle, it’s a useful baseline for back-of-envelope calculations. It’s an early indication of sports betting activity in Maryland. So, instead of trying to guess Maryland’s total level of sports betting activity from scratch, we projected from hard numbers we already had access to. Additionally, retail sports betting handle doesn’t drop when states introduce mobile sports betting. It may stagnate or grow modestly compared to online betting. But it holds steady enough that the proportion between online and retail handle remains a useful guide.

About the Author
Christopher Gerlacher

Christopher Gerlacher

Senior Writer
Christopher Gerlacher is a senior writer and contributor for Gaming Today. He is a versatile and experienced industry expert with an impressive portfolio who has range from political and legislative pieces to sports and sports betting. He's a devout Broncos fan, for better or for worse, living in the foothills of Arvada, Colorado.

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