And so, it’s (finally) official: Maryland is the 21st state in the USA to launch its sports betting platforms for real. Eighteen months after writing betting into law, the state saw seven operators go live on Wednesday, November 23. Although this was significantly behind schedule from a chronology point of view, sports betting promoters in the state were quick to point out that it was right on time for a very busy end to 2022, which should see a lot of action on betting apps in the Old Line State as we move towards the New Year.
Monday (November 21st) had seen the state launch betting apps for a period of eight hours so regulators could see live sports betting in action and check for any hangups. Once the trial period had gone off without any issues, Wednesday’s big kick-off was set in stone, and so it came to pass. It’s too early to quote any specific figures, though those will come – but the big launch was a success, especially for Caesars and DraftKings, who went live shortly before the big official launch.
The launch date is significant. One day later, it would have left very little time for Maryland sports bettors keen to put money on the NFL’s Thanksgiving fixtures, which are a key set piece of the football season. Now, bettors will have all day to place bets on the three games which will become the first NFL games to be bet on in the state; they will undoubtedly be followed by this weekend’s games for the Baltimore Ravens and nearby Washington Commanders.
Sports betting also comes while the soccer World Cup is in its early stages, and with at least two games for the US Men’s National Team still to be played. Friday will see Gregg Berhalter’s side take on England in what will be their biggest test of the group stages, while surprise first-round wins for Saudi Arabia over Argentina, and Japan against Germany, will certainly have awakened the market’s interest in underdog betting.
A busy first few months would be very good news for the industry in Maryland, given that tax on betting revenue in the state has been earmarked for beneficial causes including education. While there are still plenty of skeptics around, there is little doubt that a steady revenue stream directed to educating the state’s children would be a very persuasive argument as to why the state was correct to launch online betting. In that regard, launching now with the steady run of activity that lies ahead will have been very welcome.
It should also be noted, of course, that there will be a softening effect on the income from the early weeks of betting in the state, because sportsbooks will have launched with significant promotional offers in place, permitting free bets to early adopters. Some people were surprised when Kansas revealed its early monthly figures and saw a slowish early cashflow, but this effect has tailed off as normal betting commences in the state.