BetRivers Opens Maryland’s First Non-Casino Retail Sportsbook

Maryland sports betting is getting another retail sportsbook, with BetRivers opening at Bingo World — the state’s first retail outlet outside of a casino. It’s continued growth for betting in the state, but online wagering is still waiting.

Last Updated: Aug 1, 2022 9:27 AM ET
Read Time: 2 min

Sports betting in Maryland officially gets its sixth sportsbook today — but unlike the previous five, this one won’t be in a casino, as BetRivers has partnered with Bingo World to open the state’s first non-casino retail sportsbook.

A press release to announce the opening highlighted that it covers 3,000 square feet and will feature a lounge area with 32 theater-style seats, bar seating with high-top tables, 21 hi-definition video screens that surround the space, plus streaming BetRivers odds boards, 12 sports wagering kiosks and three over the counter machines to place bets.

Maryland voters overwhelmingly approved (by a 2:1 margin) legal sports betting in the state in November 2020. After voters approved the referendum, the state legislature still had to iron out the details.

In April 2021, Maryland lawmakers passed a sports betting measure that, among other things, allowed for up to 47 retail licenses and 60 mobile licenses. Seventeen of the 47 retail outlets were immediately given the opportunity to apply for a license, including Bingo World.

Five of the six casinos in the state got early approval. MGM National Harbor, Live! Casino, Horseshoe Casino, Hollywood Casin,o and Ocean Downs Casino worked with Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA), which oversees sports betting.

The five were awarded licenses in December 2021 and began sports wagering operations before the end of the year.

Complicated process for BetRivers, Bingo World

Not only did Bingo World and BetRivers have to get approval from the MLGCA, but Bingo World also had to work with the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), which was created by the state legislature.

Bingo World applied in February 2022 and received approval the following month. BetRivers got authorization from MLGCA in March.

After Bingo World paid a $250,000 licensing fee and agreed to be taxed 15% on its winnings, they had one more step before they could launch: The facility had to perform a controlled demonstration of its operations, with guests participating in live wagering that was observed by the MLGCA.

Once they overcame that hurdle, Bingo World was ready to launch. The facility will be the first retail sportsbook site outside of a casino… but it won’t be the last. Maryland’s three off-track betting sites — Riverboat on the Potomac, Long Shot’s, and Greenmount Station — have all been awarded licenses but have not yet begun the approval process.

Bingo World is one of approximately 50 places that offer bingo in Maryland, but is the biggest operator in the state. In addition to daily bingo sessions, it also has 200 gaming machines.

Sports betting healthy in Maryland

The June revenue numbers for Maryland saw the five sportsbooks have a handle of $19 million and a $1.3 million hold, based on a report from the MLGCA.

Since launching in December 2021, the five sportsbooks have collected nearly $175 million and reaped $20 million in profit. Live! Casino & Hotel led the five with a $79 million handle and $9 million hold, followed by MGM National Harbor ($52 million handle/$5 million hold), Horseshoe ($26 million handle/$3 million hold), Hollywood ($9.5 million handle/$900,000 hold ), and Ocean ($7.4 million handle/$1.1 million hold).

This is also without mobile wagering, which is still slogging its way through the legislature as the SWARC had held up the process in an effort to make licenses more inclusive to women and minorities.

Gov. Larry Hogan urged SWARC to move forward with online wagering in June. They advanced regulations earlier in July, excluding race and gender-based criteria to obtain a license, following Hogan writing a letter to the members of SWARC in which he was critical of their actions.

“Instead of decisive action to implement the voters’ decision, you have allowed the process to stagnate and become mired in overly bureaucratic procedures that have needlessly delayed the state’s ability to maximize the revenue potential of this emerging industry,” Hogan wrote. “Sports fans in Maryland simply want to be able to place bets on their mobile devices — that’s what they voted for, and they are angry and discouraged over SWARC’s inability to make it happen.”

Hogan’s goal is to have online sports betting available by the start of the NFL season in September — nearly two years since voters approved legalized sports betting in the state — but it’s seeming more and more unlikely that the timeline will be met.

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