It’s been a long time coming, but Maryland’s online betting platforms are finally ready to go, launching on Wednesday, November 23. The date for active sports betting was sealed after a dry run on the 21st, which saw the state’s seven betting providers operate for eight hours without a hitch. The successful trial launch means that Maryland achieves one of the state gambling commission’s goals by ensuring that sports betting is available ahead of Thanksgiving, with the traditional three NFL matches to be played on that day.
Sports betting has been definitively legal in Maryland since May 2021, meaning that the eventual online launch comes eighteen months after the legislation was signed into law by the state governor. There’s no doubt that this has been a significant waiting period compared to the likes of Kansas, but Maryland sports betting fans will hope that the wait has been worth it. Certainly if the dry run is anything to go by, the betting platforms in the state are likely to run smoothly.
As of this moment, there are seven sportsbooks which will be ready to go as of the launch date. These are BetMGM, DraftKings, Caesars, FanDuel, PointsBet, Barstool Sportsbook, and BetRivers. There is provision, however, for as many as sixty sportsbooks to be operational at once in Maryland. Any betting company that has not been ready for this launch can take advantage of a rolling process which will allow them to achieve the necessary licensing requirements and go live the moment their license is granted.
Maryland’s approach to the trial and launch of sports betting is somewhat unique among states that have legalized online betting. Other states have had soft launches for betting platforms which have then been turned into full launches in a relatively seamless fashion. Here, the betting platforms were witnessed by commission specialists for eight hours on Monday 21 November, and then taken offline. They will be relaunched at a time still to be defined on Wednesday, in time for the Thanksgiving sports calendar which will play out on Thursday.
That calendar will include the Buffalo Bills’ visit to Detroit to play the Lions, before the Dallas Cowboys welcome the New York Giants in a pivotal clash at the top of the NFC East. The evening game will see the Minnesota Vikings play host to the New England Patriots, with all three games having major playoff implications. Maryland sports fans will have their first chance to bet on a local team on Sunday, when Lamar Jackson leads his team in a road game against the shaky Jacksonville Jaguars.
At the core of the 18-month wait for sports betting to go live in Maryland was an insistence on the part of the commission that they wanted the launch to be good rather than quick. With the pre-launch having gone as smoothly as it has, it seems that they have at least delivered on this front. Now, time will tell whether sports betting takes off in the way it has elsewhere in the States.