Maryland Could Miss Out On $200 Million Monthly Handle

Retail sports betting launched in Maryland last winter, but the state is now dragging its feet when it comes to mobile betting. The wait could prove costly.

Based on projections from similar states, Maryland could leave over $200 million in handle on the table every month if mobile betting doesn’t launch in 2022. The biggest hit would come from mobile betting not being available before the start of the NFL season, playoffs, or the Super Bowl, which are some of the largest betting events of the year. 

As of May 20, Maryland has yet to adopt all regulations needed to award the potential 60 mobile betting licenses. Because of this, leading sportsbooks are suspecting that the state could fail to launch mobile betting in 2022. The rules are still being drafted by the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), one of the two regulatory bodies overseeing the sports betting industries in Maryland. 

In total, there are up to 47 retail licenses, including 17 guaranteed licenses pending a regulatory check, and up to 60 mobile licenses available in Maryland. However, only five sportsbooks have launched so far. All of them are among the 17 locations designated by law. 

SWARC states on its website that it is “drafting regulations to govern the application process.” It is also, it says, conducting an “industry analysis” of today’s sports betting market. The commission added that, “these tasks must be completed before the [mobile] application process can begin.”

Maryland Leaving Handle On The Table

While every state has variance in handle after launch, Maryland is expected to be similar to Louisiana and Iowa. Both states take in a significant portion of monthly handle through mobile betting. Specifically, both states currently make 88.5% of monthly handle on average from mobile betting and 11.5% from retail locations. 

Based on Maryland’s 2021 retail handle and the 88.5% mobile-retail handle split from other states, the Old Line State could have made an average $200 million each month from mobile betting if it launched last year. 

The table below shows the actual retail handle, and the potential mobile handle Maryland could have made after launch in 2020.

MonthActual Retail HandleEstimated Mobile HandleEstimated Total Handle
December 2020$16,552,430$127,669,142$144,221,572
January 2021$32,530,831$250,910,790$283,441,621
February 2021$25,526,148$196,883,564$222,409,712
March 2021$31,025,892$239,303,172$270,329,064
April 2021$26,908,845$207,548,327$234,457,172

Taking the average of the estimated mobile handle shows that Maryland left $204 million on the table each month because mobile betting wasn’t live. The projections show an even larger amount left on the table for 2022. 

Based on Iowa’s 34% growth after its first year of legal sports betting, we extrapolated the forecasted retail handle and estimated mobile betting handle. The average estimated monthly mobile handle for 2022 would be $274 million.

Forecasted Retail HandleEstimated Mobile HandleEstimated Total Handle
$22,194,573$171,187,077$193,381,650
$43,619,451$336,437,482$380,056,933
$34,227,117$263,994,269$298,221,386
$41,601,531$320,873,235$362,474,766
$36,081,127$278,294,276$314,375,403

This amount is significant given the year-over-year growth states see after the first year with legal betting. Additionally, the amount leaves a big hole in Maryland’s tax revenue. 

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Impact On Maryland’s Tax Revenue

Based on the estimated average $274 million mobile sports betting handle, it’s clear that the state is likely missing out on a large amount of taxes. 

Since the beginning of Iowa’s 2022 fiscal year, local sportsbooks have handled $1.9 billion for mobile sports betting. In the same period, sportsbooks have made $100.3 million in Gross Gaming Revenue. GGR for Iowa is just over 5% of the total handle. 

Let’s apply this percentage to the estimated mobile sports betting handle for Maryland. This means there would be a GGR of $13.7 million. And using an estimated tax of 15%, Maryland could have brought in over $2 million in tax revenue alone. The majority of the money would be earmarked for education and local impact grants

Sportsbooks, bettors, and the state are all worse-off if Maryland isn’t able to launch mobile sports betting in 2022. Missing large sports betting opportunities, especially the NFL, means that there is less handle and fewer tax gains. 

SWARC states that all “updates on the status of…regulations will be provided on swarc.org.” As soon as the regulations have been declared, they will be live on the website. Maryland will then be able to move forward with the launch of mobile sports betting. 

About the Author

Stephanie Wood

Stephanie is a writer and contributor for Maryland Sharp. Following her graduation from the University of Colorado with a degree in Business Administration, she worked at The Wall Street Journal. She also holds her MFA in Creative Writing from Arcadia University. She has written for Augusta Free Press, Toronto Sports Media, CU Independent, and several other publications. When she's not writing, you can find her rooting for the Colorado Avalanche, taking care of her plants, and fostering dogs.