Baltimore-area casinos — which have waited years for permission to offer wagering on football, basketball and other sports — will open in-person sports betting to the public Friday.
Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland both plan to launch their sportsbooks with ribbon-cutting ceremonies Friday, assuming they receive final state approval following two days of controlled demonstrations earlier this week.
The maximum allowable bet will be $5 million for any one sporting event.
That limit was a point of contention during the public comment period on the state’s proposed sports betting regulations. DraftKings and FanDuel, the fantasy sports and sports betting sites, had argued for no limits, while problem gambling experts said the maximum should be no more than $100,000.
“It’s an issue that we looked at from all sides,” said John Martin, director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, which considered 351 pages of public comments amounting to a debate on what practices should be in-bounds when the first state-sanctioned wagers are made.
Horseshoe plans to open sports wagering Friday afternoon following a ceremony scheduled to include Mayor Brandon Scott, Gov. Larry Hogan, former Ravens Torrey Smith and Adalius Thomas, and former Dunbar and NBA player Muggsy Bogues.
“It’ll be fantastic, I hope,” said Randy Conroy, Horseshoe’s senior vice president and general manager.
Horseshoe, whose revenues have not reached projections made by state consultants before its 2014 opening, hopes sports betting will allow it to further capitalize on its proximity to fans at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Ravens. In 2018, the casino announced a marketing deal with the Ravens allowing it to use team trademarks and logos. The Ravens have three home games remaining this season, not including the postseason.
Hogan also is scheduled to appear at Live! Casino in Hanover, which announced that the ceremonial first bet at its sportsbook — run in partnership with FanDuel — will be made by former Ravens standout Ed Reed.
“For us, the big benefit is getting people in the building,” said Rob Norton, the casino’s president. Live! is among the Maryland casinos that have renovated their facilities to create sports-themed bars and restaurants where patrons can also bet on games.
MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County plans to launch sports betting Thursday assuming the state signs off, according to Martin. A casino spokesperson said no further information was available.
Two other Maryland casinos, Hollywood Casino Perryville and Ocean Downs in Worcester County, also are planning to offer sports betting but don’t have a timetable. The sixth state casino, Rocky Gap near Cumberland, “has opted not to get into the game,” Martin said.
The expansion of gambling to encompass sports betting came following a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a congressional ban that had restricted sports wagering to Nevada and a few other states with a history of allowing such bets. Maryland voters approved a ballot question to allow sports betting in 2020, which was followed by a law passed earlier this year setting the parameters of how the industry will operate.
The state will levy a 15% tax on the facilities’ sports gambling proceeds, with most of the money dedicated to public schools. Once all of the state’s in-person and online sports gambling is up and running, the industry is expected to take in about $100 million per year, according to a nonpartisan analysis.