Sports Betting Roundup: Maryland Figures it out; New York still a bit of a Mystery

Jay Dieffenbach

Maryland lawmakers by Monday afternoon had settled on a compromise in setting up its sports gambling industry.

After having differing viewpoints over the past few weeks on how many licenses should be issued for in-person and online betting, the House of Delegates and state Senate found common ground, according to the Baltimore Sun:

The final plan will feature in-person licenses for sports betting granted to casinos, the Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course thoroughbred racing tracks, and the stadiums for the Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Ravens and Washington Football Team.

Senate changes to a House sports betting bill authorizes daily wagering at Baltimore's professional sports stadiums. The newly amended legislation allows for an unlimited number of digital and in-person betting licenses in five categories.

“Our objective is to make sure that we stay competitive with our neighboring states, making sure that Maryland tax dollars are returning back to the state also ensuring that we are investing in our children’s education future,” Sen. Craig Zucker, D-Floor Manager, said.

Class A licenses include in-person betting at all the state's casinos and Maryland horse-racing tracks.

“In the springtime, up in the Baltimore, Harford County area, they have the point-to-point races, like, the Hunt Cup, My Ladies Manor, is it possible for one of these companies that have a license to come out and set up a temporary booth,” said Sen. J.B. Jennings, R-Baltimore and Harford counties.

Maryland expects to add up to 30 in-person betting licenses for off-track betting facilities, the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium and large bingo halls, with up to 60 licenses issued for mobile and online sports betting.

“I think it’s very inclusive, transparent, and this was a collaborative effort with the House and all involved,” Zucker said, adding that the hopes are to have some operators in place by the start of the NFL season, and definitely by the 2022 Super Bowl.

All companies would pay a tax of 15% of their sports betting revenues, with the money largely dedicated to public schools. The state is expected to take in about $20 million per year in such taxes.

Indiana Returns to a Favorable Trend

The sports betting numbers grew again in Indiana, with an increase to $316 million in March betting handle, though January still holds the best-month stats.

Not surprisingly, the year-over-year comparison looked impressive: An increase of more than $240 million – up over 300% — from March 2020 when casinos were forced to close due to the pandemic.

But Indiana also saw a rise of 15.6% over its February numbers.

According to the Indiana Gaming Commission, the January numbers still reign supreme.

Adjusted gross revenue for January totaled $29.3 million, up 127.1% from the same month last year, while the amount was also 15.8% higher than the previous record of $25.3 million set in November 2020.

Sports bettors wagered $348.2 million in January, more than double the $170.8 million bet in January 2020, and up 11.2% from December 2020.

In March, sports-wagering tax paid by operators more than doubled from February — a 55.4% increase to $2.5 million in March.

They love their basketball in Indiana, as that sport proved the most popular to bet, $160.7 million due largely to the NCAA Tournament, which was hosted by Indiana.

Hoops bets were up 28.8% from February while football brought in $13.5 million and parlay cards produced $77.5 million.

“Other sports” registered $62.5 million in wagers.

The sportsbook operator leaders were Penn National Gaming’s Ameristar Casino and its DraftKings sportsbook, followed by Blue Chip Casino and its FanDuel sportsbook.

Belterra Casino and its BetMGM sportsbook finished third.

Iowa Finding Slam-Dunk Results from March

Even though the state’s beloved Hawkeyes basketball team was bounced early from the NCAA Tournament, Iowa’s March numbers saw a marked increase over February.

The total sports betting handle and the sports betting revenue set state records in March, helped out by the NCAA Tournament.

The total sports betting handle in March was just over $161 million, an increase of more than 12 percent from February, besting the record mark of $149.5 million set in January 2021.

The sports-betting revenue produced in March was $13.5 million, also bettering the all-time state record, though both marks are likely to be short-lived as the sports-wagering boom continues.

Remote registration, now allowed in Iowa as of Jan. 1, is expected to further drive interest from consumers who have helped online sports betting dominate the market.

The online sports betting handle for March was $139.3 million, up nearly 12 percent from February.

New York Model May not be an Ideal Plan

Mobile sports betting in New York was officially added to the state’s budget a week ago, but as of Monday, it’s not clear what form sports wagering will take.

From the New York Daily News

While no one doubts the house will win — it always does — questions arose about the state’s tight control of the plan, the limited number of betting options and the effect on the state’s tribal-run casinos. Others suggested Cuomo’s prediction of $500 million in state revenue within three years was overly optimistic.

Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr., a key sports-betting proponent during the budget negotiations with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers, believes clarity will be found in the coming days and weeks.

The New York State Gaming Commission will approve at least two platform providers that will partner with a minimum of four total skin partners. What exactly those relationships will look like is still unclear.

Cuomo modeled his proposal after the lottery-focused New Hampshire sports betting, which also determined its sports betting market through a competitive bid.

That format has been criticized because it fails to provide an open competition among all online sportsbook operators nationwide such as FanDuel and DraftKings.

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