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Three Maryland casinos move closer to offering gambling on sports

Three of Maryland’s casinos took a significant step forward Wednesday in the process toward being able to offer gambling on sports.

The Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover and MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill cleared the initial review process for sports wagering licenses conducted by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission.

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Though the three casinos still remain multiple steps away from offering bets on games, Wednesday’s initial approval puts them closer. Officials previously predicted that the first locations could be up and running in “late fall, early winter.”

Live! Casino & Hotel already opened a sports-themed lounge in anticipation of being able to offer sports gambling, while MGM plans to open a venue for eventual sports betting later this month.

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The Horseshoe Casino, meanwhile, is renovating its first floor to create “an immersive entertainment environment” that includes sports betting, table games and a Brew Brothers-branded restaurant and bar, according to parent company Caesars Entertainment

The Maryland Lottery determined that the three casinos meet all of the qualifications to be able to offer sports betting, as they already are licensed to offer other forms of gambling, including slot machines and table games.

The three casinos’ applications now move to a body called the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission. Should that commission approve the applications, then the casinos will go back before the Maryland Lottery, which issues the formal licenses.

“We’re pleased to have these three applicants approved and move them along to the SWARC,” Maryland Lottery Director John Martin said in a statement. “Our team is diligently implementing the sports wagering law, and we’re one step closer to the first in-person wagers, which we hope will take place by late fall.”

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The three casinos are among 17 potential locations for in-person sports betting that were spelled out in the 2021 law that legalizes gambling on sports.

Dozens more licenses will be available for both in-person and online betting; the requirements and application process for those licenses still are being worked out by the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission. That application process may include “race conscious” elements, such as awarding preference points to minority- and women-owned companies, or allowing those companies to open earlier than other companies. Lawmakers made clear their intent to ensure meaningful participation in the industry by minority companies.

The expansion of the gambling industry into sports betting is moving forward under emergency regulations, while hundreds of pages’ worth of permanent regulations are being considered that would govern all aspects of sports wagering.

Maryland entered the world of gambling on sports after voters overwhelmingly approved sports betting on the ballot during the 2020 election. Every state bordering Maryland and the District of Columbia already has operating sports gambling industries.

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