Can Maryland Top Virginia’s Record March To $1 Billion Betting Handle?

Virginia’s sports betting launch has to be considered a win-win for both the state and sportsbook operators alike. As pointed out by Tyler Arnold of The Center Square, Virginia hit the $1 billion betting handle mark faster than any state in US sports betting history.

Virginia’s sports betting market includes only online wagering for now. From the Jan. 21, 2021 launch date through the end of May, Virginia sportsbooks took $1,092,137,211 in bets.

Every dollar of that figure came from Virginia bettors putting wagers down on mobile sports betting apps. A total of seven different online sportsbooks operated in Virginia in May.

Virginia’s neighbor to the north is about to enter the fray in the legal US sports betting market. Maryland passed a sports betting bill in April, and state gaming regulators hope for the first wave of the state’s sportsbooks to go live by the end of 2021.

Could Maryland hit the $1 billion betting handle milestone faster than Virginia? If certain factors fall into place for the Old Line State, the answer is yes.

Football Season Could Drive Big Launch Numbers In Maryland

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Agency stated that “an exact date has not been determined” for the launch of legal sports betting in the state.

If Maryland’s first wave of sportsbooks go live around the start of 2021-22 football season, the state’s sports betting launch could end up as the most successful yet in the booming US legal sports betting industry.

Football season marks the beginning of the prime of the US sports betting calendar. Both NFL and college football produce strong betting interest, through January’s College Football Playoff National Championship and February’s Super Bowl.

The NCAA Men’s basketball tournament follows the Super Bowl in March, as another one of the biggest events on the sports betting calendar. The end of March Madness brings generally leads to a slowdown in betting interest, with wagering handle dropping off across US sportsbooks.

Virginia’s sports betting launch happened just in time for the Super Bowl and March Madness. The January through May period also concluded with two of the slowest months of the year for US sports betting.

Maryland, with a keenly-timed, coordinated debut, could benefit significantly from a launch that coincides with the fall sports season. If the first few months of legal sports betting can include the entire NFL and NCAA football season, Maryland would likely top Virginia’s impressive pace to $1 billion in betting handle.

Outlook For Maryland Sports Betting

Maryland’s sports betting laws allow for up to 60 online sports betting licenses, as well as up to 40 retail licenses. The maximum number allocated for both kinds of licenses puts Maryland in a league of its own when it comes to the diversity of a sports betting market.

Virginia, along with Michigan, show sparkling examples of what’s possible in a freshly-launched online sports betting market.

Michigan debuted online sports betting on Jan. 22, one day after Virginia. Retail sportsbooks debuted in the Great Lakes State in 2020.

Narrowing down Michigan’s betting handle numbers to just online sportsbooks, Michigan’s mobile sports betting apps produced $1,263,899,045 in handle from the January launch date through the end of May. Like Virginia, Michigan’s online sports betting platforms debuted just in time to offer betting on the Super Bowl and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Virginia and Michigan currently sit as the gold standards for emerging online sports betting markets. Maryland could top both of those states, however, in terms of online betting handle generated in the first four months of operations.

Coordinated Launch, Football Season Are The Keys To Success In Maryland

Maryland’s numbers out of the gate will largely depend on the timing and coordination of the launch of online sportsbooks.

Virginia debuted five top online sports betting brands within two weeks of the Jan. 21 launch date. Michigan went live with nine different mobile sports betting platforms, simultaneously on Jan. 22.

If Maryland can get the first wave of online sportsbooks up and running before football season, the Old Line State could set a new standard for most successful sports betting launch in US history.

If that first batch of online sportsbooks includes industry giants like FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, BetMGM, BetRivers, and Caesars Sports, Maryland stands an even better chance of success right out of the gate.

About the Author

Geoffrey Fisk

Geoff Fisk is a San Diego-based freelance writer, specializing in the poker and gambling industries. He’s written for numerous platforms and has traveled the globe as a live poker tournament reporter. Geoff’s interests include the legal online poker industry in the U.S. and abroad.