While residents await the implementation of Maryland sports betting, one potential licensee has already gotten its wheels in motion. Sports and Social Maryland is a little taste of what’s to come at the Live! Casino in Hanover.
For interested gamblers in the commonwealth, it’s a good sign that future operators aren’t dragging their feet. That means a launch later this year remains possible, even if just on a brick-and-mortar basis.
What is Sports and Social Maryland?
In short, it’s all the atmosphere of a retail sportsbook without the sports betting. For now, anyway. The Live! Casino and Hotel in Hanover began the offering on April 29. Right now, the new space inside the facility offers a few things for guests.
In addition to bowling and video games, the area features 100 feet of LED screens. The centerpiece of that is a 47′-wide main screen. As you would expect from a future sportsbook, the majority of that footage will be displaying live sporting events.
According to the casino’s website, patrons will also find gaming tables and special dining options. Those include standard sports bar fare like burgers and nachos. Beverage service at the upstairs bar starts at 8 a.m. daily, going through midnight Sunday-Thursday and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Foodservice starts at 4 p.m., with the same cut-off hours for the same days of the week. While this is essentially an in-casino sports bar right now, it will eventually be much more. It’s where the casino plans to offer wagering on sporting events at some point.
It’s uncertain how many betting kiosks or windows will be available in the space. The MD State Lottery & Gaming Control Commission will determine that in the near future. That body will start drafting regulations for sports betting in Maryland soon.
There is an inkling of the operator of the sportsbook as well. FanDuel Sportsbook runs the retail spaces at both Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia and Live! Casino Pittsburgh. The Cordish Companies, which owns both of those properties and the Hanover casino, plans to expand its partnership with FanDuel to include the MD property.
The Hanover property isn’t the only place making preparations, either. Other gambling companies in the state aren’t hesitating to get ready for the seemingly inevitable day when they can start taking bets on sporting events.
Potential retail sportsbooks coming to Bethesda, Oxon Hill
Earlier this year, The Cordish Companies announced their plans to open another Sports and Social in Bethesda’s Pike & Rose neighborhood. The facility would be eligible for a Class B sports betting license under the pending law.
Not to be left behind, MGM is taking action as well. MGM National Harbor has begun work on a “sportsbook enhancement project” with Prince George’s County, which Oxon Hill sits in. To clear the way for the BetMGM Sportsbook, it plans to convert three of the venues in its National Market food court.
Of course, all of this is currently speculatory, pending regulatory approval. There’s good reason for everyone involved to anticipate that, however. The legal framework for sports betting in MD suggests favorable outcomes for gambling companies.
Why casino operators in MD aren’t jumping the gun
The new gambling expansion bill that’s pending Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s signature designates six sports betting licenses, especially for casino licensees. That puts Live! Casino and Hotel Maryland as well as MGM National Harbor in prime position for Class A licenses.
The bill also allocates 30 Class B licenses, with open parameters for the types of businesses that can apply for them. What’s more, the licenses are quite affordable. Class A licenses will cost $2 million upfront but renew every five years at $500,000. Class B-1 licenses are $250,000 initially then $50,000 to renew on five-year intervals. Licenses in other states run as much as $20 million to acquire.
Because of the cost and volume of licenses along with the designations, it’s very probable that these companies will receive approval. Because they’re working on readying the physical spaces now, they will likely be raring to go as soon as regulators give them the green light to start writing tickets.
All signs point toward legal sports betting, at least in-person, being available in MD by the start of the 2021-22 NFL season. If that’s the case, Sports and Social Maryland will be among the places to be during that kickoff.