Two more facilities won a key approval Wednesday to offer in-person gambling on sports in Maryland.
The Riverboat on the Potomac, located off the Virginia shore of the river, and Long Shot’s in Frederick got signoff from the Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission. Both are existing restaurants that offer gambling including lottery and off-track betting.
Both the Riverboat and Long Shot’s still must undergo a final round of technical reviews by state lottery officials before they can start accepting wagers. Owners of both facilities said it will be well into the new year before they can open their sportsbook operations.
“I’m pinching myself,” said Tony Jones, one of the investors in the Riverboat on the Potomac.
Jones said the Riverboat team is hoping to get their sportsbook operational in February — possibly a soft opening by the Super Bowl if all goes well — but definitely no later than the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament.
The Riverboat is uniquely situated: Getting there by land requires a drive across the Potomac River to the Virginia town of Colonial Beach. But most of the facility is located on pilings over the water, legally putting it in Maryland’s Charles County. It offers lottery games from both Virginia and Maryland as well as off-track betting on horse racing through Maryland.
A statement the company prepared for the meeting promoted the fact that the Riverboat is a 100% minority-owned business, and thanked the state “for recognizing the opportunity we have to influence change.”
The Riverboat signed a deal with betting company PointsBet to handle the sportsbook operation. PointsBet, meanwhile, also announced a multiyear partnership Wednesday with the University of Maryland. Terrapins fans will see PointsBet advertising at basketball and football games and on broadcasts as part of the partnership, believed to be the first of its kind with a university in the Big Ten athletic conference.
Maryland joins the University of Colorado, the University of Denver, Louisiana State University, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Nevada, Reno among schools that have signed deals with sports betting operators. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Long Shot’s advertises that it offers “betting, beer, BBQ” with 88 televisions broadcasting live horse racing. It’s located off of Interstate 270 in a hotel and event center complex.
Owner Alyse Cohen said she plans to start offering sports wagering in the first quarter of 2022, and she has long-term plans to renovate the space to upgrade the customer experience.
Long Shot’s is believed to be the only 100% woman-owned facility designated for a sports gambling license in Maryland.
“I am thrilled to be a trailblazer for a diverse and successful sports betting industry in the state of Maryland,” Cohen said in a statement.
Maryland lawmakers devised the licensing system with diversity in mind, hoping to ensure meaningful participation by women- and minority-owned businesses and investors.
While the Riverboat and Long Shot’s will take some time before offering betting, gamblers will be able to get a fix starting as soon as Thursday.
The MGM National Harbor casino plans to launch its sports gambling operation Thursday afternoon, followed Friday by Live! Casino & Hotal at Arundel Mills and Horseshoe Casino Baltimore. Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, is scheduled to appear at launch events at all three casinos, alongside retired professional sports stars.
The casinos, the Riverboat and Long Shot’s are among 17 locations that Maryland lawmakers designated for in-person sports betting in a law passed earlier this year. The state also will offer dozens more licenses eventually for in-person betting and online betting, though that process has not yet been established.
In-person betting is expected to be just a small portion of the overall sports gambling industry in Maryland. In states that offer both in-person and online or app-based sports gambling, the in-person portion of the industry has been 5 to 15 percent.
When Maryland’s sports gambling industry is fully operational, it’s expected to generate about $100 million in revenue annually, according to a nonpartisan analysis. The state will levy a 15% tax, with the money largely dedicated to public education.
Maryland voters approved a ballot question to allow sports betting in 2020, which was followed by the law passed earlier this year setting the parameters of how the industry will operate.