The waiting is nearly over. Legal sports betting is coming to Maryland after Gov. Larry Hogan made it official in May 2021. The intended September launch plan is an unlikely scenario at this point, with regulators saying “it’s just impossible” to get it all done by the start of the NFl season.
All of that being said, Maryland is a hotbed for sports. The Baltimore Ravens and Baltimore Orioles top the charts in overall interest, but nearby clubs from the DC metro area receive their fair share of attention, as well.
With sports betting poised to become a reality in Maryland before too long, now is the time to take a look at what’s on tap. In this guide, we’ll cover how you can get started, what you can wager on and much more.
Is sports betting legal in Maryland?
Yes, sports betting is legal in Maryland but there are no legal online sportsbooks available in the state yet. On April 12, 2021, the Maryland Senate unanimously approved a sports betting bill that previously had passed through the House of Delegates. Hogan signed the bill into law a month later. Maryland voters gave their approval during the November 2020 elections.
The goal is for MD sports betting to be ready to go by the time the NFL season kicks off in September 2021, but it could take until the end of 2021 if not the beginning of 2022. The market is poised to be a competitive one, as there will be Class A licenses reserved for the state’s pro teams and stadiums, as well as the Maryland Jockey Club. There will also be dozens of other licenses available for Class B and mobile sportsbook apps.
What still needs to happen
The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency posted the draft rules (a 227-page outline of regulations for sportsbooks) on Aug. 27. There is a 30-day public comment period, plus a Sept. 22 public meeting. The timeline gets a bit fuzzier from that point on as partnerships are ironed out, applications are processed, and licenses are approved. Gov. Hogan said he hopes the state’s first online and retail books open by year’s end.
Maryland sports betting apps
The number of licenses available in Maryland will directly translate into lots of sports betting apps. It also means that we can expect the application and licensing stage to be busy and competitive. We’ll have to wait to see which sportsbooks officially seek licenses, but here are some of the most likely candidates.
- DraftKings Sportsbook: A slick platform that’s filled with features has helped DraftKings become one of the market leaders in a number of legal states. Top highlights include a super clean layout of props available for full slates of games, and its dedicated live betting section.
- Caesars Sports: Caesars Sports is the face of a familiar brand to most. Its depth of experience and copious assets make it a favorite to launch in Maryland. The app itself is not flashy, but there are plenty of options for betting that you can use safely and effectively.
- BetMGM Sportsbook: An instantly recognizable brand name has helped the BetMGM app gain lots of traction, but it brings much more to the table than that. It offers a wide range of sports that you can’t find everywhere, as well as all of the bet types you could ask for.
- FanDuel Sportsbook: A visually appealing platform that’s also among the most user-friendly in the industry has helped FanDuel separate itself from the pack. The company’s same-game parlay feature has been a big hit with bettors, as has the app’s overall functionality.
- BetRivers Sportsbook: A member of the Rush Street Interactive family, the BetRivers Sportsbook app has stood out for prioritizing the user experience. Features include a regular array of ongoing promotions and a rewards program that allows bettors to accrue points just for wagering.
- PointsBet Sportsbook: Australia-based PointsBet introduced an entirely new way of betting when it debuted in the US. Known as PointsBetting, it allows users more control of the risk to reward ratio on wagers. The company also pays careful attention to the odds and lines. PointsBet secured access to Maryland via a partnership with the Riverboat on the Potomac.
- Fox Bet Sportsbook: If you’ve watched any Fox Sports programming recently, then there’s a good chance that the name Fox Bet rings a bell. The sportsbook offers lots of promos with network tie-ins, and the app itself is incredibly clean and simple to use.
- Barstool Sportsbook: Penn National Gaming and the media entity Barstool Sports have joined forces for a foray into sports betting. The overall rollout has been slow, but plans call for Barstool Sportsbook to be available in multiple states.
How to start betting online in Maryland
Getting started with online betting in MD will be a simple process as there will be no in-person registration requirement. The law calls for remote registration, so you’ll be able to complete the sign-up process online or via app from anywhere in Maryland. When you’re ready to register, you’ll need to provide information that includes the following:
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Last four digits of Social Security number
As part of the sign-up process, the sportsbook may ask you to provide additional documentation if it has any trouble verifying your age or identity.
You will need to be located within state lines to place bets on sportsbook apps and websites. But you don’t have to be a resident of Maryland to bet. The books will verify your location via geolocation tracking software, which runs in the background after an initial download.
Online sportsbooks are generally very simple to use. You can place bets, fund your account, scope out the odds and much more whenever and wherever you like without having to head to a retail sportsbook.
What is the legal age to bet on sports in Maryland?
The legal sports betting age in the state is 21. You must be 21 or older to place a bet in Maryland, whether it’s online or in person.
How licensing works in Maryland
Once sports betting legislation is signed into law, it’ll be time for the application and licensing phase. Regulations will also be put together as per the law. The Maryland State Lottery & Gaming Control Commission will oversee the new market and promulgate the rules and regulations.
While we can expect some fine-tuning to take place, many of the key points have already been addressed. Here’s where things stand at the moment.
- A total of 10 Class A licenses are available, allocated as follows: six for Maryland casinos, three for pro sports teams and stadiums, and one for the Maryland Jockey Club.
- In addition, there are 30 Class B licenses and 60 mobile licenses, in addition to seven entities that will have automatic claims to Class B licenses — four OTBs, a pair of commercial bingo halls, and the Maryland State Fairgrounds.
- Class A and Class B license holders can also submit applications for mobile.
- Sports betting revenue will be taxed at 15%.
- A fiscal note projection points to an estimated annual impact of $17 million to $19 million for fiscal years 2022-26.
- The bill calls for $3 million to be appropriated to Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities.
- The state will reserve a minimum of $10 million in sports betting tax revenue for K-12 education.
- A portion of Class A license fees will go toward the “Small, Minority-Owned, and Women-Owned Business Sports Wagering Assistant Fund.”
We’ve seen healthy competition in all states with legal sports betting to date. The availability of dozens of licenses makes it likely that we’ll see the same thing develop in Maryland. For potential sports bettors in the state, that’s fantastic news.
Sports betting partnerships in Maryland
As sportsbooks battle for a share of new markets, they’ve been exploring various advertising methods to stand out. In a number of legal states, there has been a growing trend of sportsbooks inking deals with local teams. Maryland has seen a few points of note on this front to date.
- Baltimore Ravens — Horseshoe Casino Baltimore: Official casino sponsor of the team, with a branded Ravens bar at the property.
- Baltimore Ravens — Esports Entertainment Group: Esports tournament provider of the team.
- Washington Football Team — FanDuel: The Washington Football Team plays home games in Landover and has its headquarters in Virginia. The Virginia Lottery granted the team a joint license with FanDuel.
There are no deals in place for the Baltimore Orioles as of yet, but it’s likely that one will be coming in the future. Teams in the neighboring metro DC area also have deals in place with sports betting companies. This is a trend that’s not going away, and the sheer number of licenses available in the state suggests that there will be more to come.
Futures and props in Maryland
At legal sportsbooks, a great deal of betting volume is devoted to top bets such as moneyline bets, point spreads and over/unders. While you can certainly focus on those areas, you’ll also find a menu of options that runs really deep.
Among other wagers, futures bets and props are two popular ones. A futures bet is a wager on a long-term outcome. The most popular markets in this area include the following:
- Super Bowl
- NBA Finals
- World Series
- Stanley Cup
- College Football Playoff
- March Madness
- Golf majors
- Tennis Grand Slams
- Daytona 500
A sportsbook won’t settle a futures bet until the outcome is final, so it’s a bet that requires a long-range view. Books release odds for the most popular futures in the offseason, and the lines will stay active with movement as the season plays out.
Shopping around to compare prices at various books is a good idea, as you may find better potential returns by doing so. Other futures wagers include betting on player award winners, such as the NFL MVP, or over/under on regular season wins for a team.
For props, some wagers will be based on an entire season, such as the American League strikeout leader. You’ll also find a bunch tied to individual games and events that you can find by clicking on the main listing at an online sportsbook. Here are some examples:
- Will Trey Mancini hit a home run — yes/no?
- Total combined TDs for Lamar Jackson — over/under 2.5?
- Who will record more shots in the game — Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby?
Props can depend on the performances of individual players, as well as on various team and game scenarios. For the latter category, examples include total team rushing yards in an NFL game or which player will be the leading scorer in an NBA game.
Live betting on Maryland sportsbook apps
Once Maryland sports betting officially goes live, we can expect to see a similar menu of options to what we’ve seen in other legal states. Included on the list will be live betting, a segment of the industry that has grown rapidly in recent years.
These are wagers that you can place in real time as a game plays out. Many wagers will be based on the current situation, but you’ll also see updated odds on the ultimate result. Here are some example live bets:
- Which side will hold the lead after three innings — Orioles/Yankees/tie?
- Total combined yards for K. Dobbins in the first half — over/under 44.5?
- What will be the result of the power play — goal or penalty kill?
All of the industry leaders feature live betting prominently on their websites and apps. Live betting can be a great companion as a game plays out and help to bring your engagement to a whole new level.
Maryland sports teams to bet on
Sports have traditionally been very popular in Maryland. Two major pro teams make their home in the state, while another franchise plays its home games in Maryland.
- NFL: Baltimore Ravens
- MLB: Baltimore Orioles
- NFL: Washington Football Team (home games at FedEx Field in Landover)
The DC metro area is also a hotbed for pro sports. All of the major North American pro leagues are represented and have quite the following in Maryland.
- MLB: Washington Nationals
- NBA: Washington Wizards
- NHL: Washington Capitals
- MLS: DC United
Maryland is also a solid market for college sports. The sports betting bill allows for wagering on NCAA football and basketball games, including on in-state teams. Some states have restrictions in place for props and live betting on college athletes, so we’ll have to wait and see if anything emerges on that in the future.
For all of the above team sports, there will be a host of bets to consider whenever they’re getting set to play. Pregame wagers like moneylines, spreads and totals are incredibly popular. You can also take a long-term view with futures or focus even further on a particular matchup with props and live betting.
The PGA Tour also makes regular stops in Maryland, while NASCAR races take place in neighboring Delaware and Virginia. In short, if betting on local attractions sounds appealing, you’ll have plenty to choose from in Maryland.
What’s legal and illegal to bet on in MD?
The projected launch for legal betting in Maryland is before the upcoming NFL season. You’ll be able to bet on all of the major sports, as well as on a range of niche sports. For the latter group, most books have a good deal of options, but available markets will likely vary.
Smaller sports that generate a good deal of betting volume include rugby and table tennis. All of the top sports will be well represented, whether it’s a big NFL or MLB game, or a top PGA Tour stop or UFC fight. For wagers, you’ll have access to the full menu of options. Some of the most popular bets include:
Maryland will allow single-game wagering on college sports, including on in-state teams. It’s unclear if there will be any restrictions on props or live betting on college athletes and games, but this is an area that a number of states have addressed. For specific restrictions, we can expect it to be similar to what we’ve seen elsewhere.
- No betting on elections or entertainment.
- No betting on high school sports or sports where the majority of participants are minors.
- Affiliated personnel cannot place bets on their own sports.
Legal sports betting will open up a variety of possibilities for fans in Maryland. There will be plenty of local games and events to bet on, as well as dozens of places to place wagers in legal and safe fashion.
Where to bet on sports in Maryland
Maryland sports betting law calls for 10 Class A licenses, Class B licenses for seven specific entities and another 30 up for competitive bid, and 60 mobile licenses. That will mean dozens of options to explore. Four of the Class A licenses will go to the following organizations:
- Baltimore Ravens and M&T Bank Stadium
- Baltimore Orioles and Camden Yards
- Washington Football Team and FedEx Field
- Maryland Jockey Club, operator of Pimlico and Laurel Park
The other six Class A licenses will go to the state’s casinos:
- MGM National Harbor, Forest Heights
- Horseshoe Casino, Baltimore
- Live! Casino and Hotel, Hanover
- Ocean Downs, Berlin
- Rocky Gap Casino Resort, Flintstone
- Hollywood Casino, Perryville
For the Class B licenses, here are the seven entities that will have ones reserved:
- Maryland State Fairgrounds
- Four off-track betting parlors
- Two commercial bingo halls
The remaining Class B licenses will be up for bid, so we’ll have to wait and see what develops. In other legal states, some licensees have handled sports betting operations in-house, while others have partnered with a dedicated provider. It should be a similar story in Maryland, with the bottom line being that consumers will have plenty of ways to place a legal bet.