Maryland Experiences Substantial Surge in Sports Betting Activity in March

Maryland has seen a notable surge in sports betting with a 21.3% increase in the handle for March, reaching an impressive $536.7 million. This not only represents a substantial month-to-month growth but also a significant 39% year-on-year increase from the $386 million in bets recorded in March of the previous year.

Interestingly, despite the fanfare surrounding the Super Bowl held in early February, Maryland’s sports betting handle for that month did not surpass January’s total of $545 million, which could be attributed to February being a shorter month combined with the NBA All-Star break taking place from February 16-21.

Diving deeper into the details, it’s evident that mobile betting led the charge with a commanding $522.1 million, accounting for a whopping 97.3% of the total bets placed in March. Conversely, retail sportsbooks contributed $14.6 million to the overall handle.

For the fiscal year to date, the March figures have helped push Maryland’s handle to more than $4.07 billion, marking an overwhelming increase of 104.8% compared to $1.99 billion at the same point last year.

Bettors in the state also had reasons to smile, as the hold percentage for operators was a mere 8.4%, a drop from the 12.3% witnessed last year during the same month. This reduced hold didn’t seem to negatively impact the state’s coffers, as contributions actually rose 16.7% month-over-month to $4.9 million, up from $4.2 million in February.

Despite the lower hold, Maryland’s sports betting operators ultimately paid out $491.6 million in prizes during March, indicating over $150 million more than the $338.4 million paid out in February.

Not to be overshadowed by sports betting, Maryland’s casinos also boasted positive figures with revenues hitting $178.1 million in March. This number is an uptick of 11.9% from February’s revenue and a year-on-year improvement of 0.9%. MGM National Harbor, operated by BetMGM, led the casino pack with a revenue of $75.1 million, leaving Live! Casino & Hotel and FanDuel in second with $64.8 million.

The Horseshoe Casino secured the third spot with $17.3 million, followed by Hollywood Casino and Ocean Downs Casino, which generated $8.5 million and $7.5 million, respectively. The casinos’ overall contribution to the state coffers increased by 2.6% year-on-year to $76.5 million in March, exceeding February’s total of $67.8 million.

Amidst the optimism in the gambling sector, March also saw the introduction of a Maryland online casino bill in a senate committee after it passed the house. The bill, which proposed statewide online casino gaming, showcased the state’s potential given its recent successes with sports betting, which launched digitally in November 2022.

Unfortunately, the bill faced a host of unresolved issues, including concerns about cannibalisation of brick-and-mortar operations and the potential rise in gambling addiction. Despite being backed with a house majority of 92-43 on March 14, in-depth discussions in the Senate and fears related to the bill’s impact held back immediate progress.

Time constraints added to the bill’s challenges, as the general assembly adjourned on April 8 with no action taken on the gambling front. This was viewed as a significant setback by the industry, especially in light of the Georgia general assembly ending its term ten days prior without legalising digital sports betting. These developments mean that both states, originally anticipated to expand their gambling operations in 2024, will now see no movement in the current session.