Sports Betting Controlled Demonstration Will Precede Statewide Launch in Maryland

Maryland online sports betting will launch on Wednesday, Nov. 23, in time for Thanksgiving the following day. But before the public can legally wager on sports via a mobile app in the state, a “soft launch” or controlled demonstration will need to take place.

A soft launch of Maryland sports betting will likely occur in the days leading up to Nov. 23. The Maryland Lottery & Gaming Control Agency announced the launch date on Nov. 17.

In a typical soft launch, a controlled number of users will be permitted to place wagers in order to test the sportsbook.

If you have already registered with a sports betting app in Maryland, be sure to consult the details of the controlled demonstration to determine if you qualify and receive your bonus/promo from the sportsbook.

How a Soft Launch of Sports Betting Might Play Out in Maryland

In a statement released on Nov. 14, MLGCA Director John Martin said that a soft launch would be the final step before a statewide launch of sports betting.

“The last hurdle is for them to have controlled demonstrations, and SWARC’s awards of licenses on Wednesday would clear the way for that to happen,” Martin said.

The SWARC awarded licenses to 10 applicants at its Nov. 16 meeting. But the MLGC is still required to issue the actual licenses.

The 10 applicants that received licenses are:

  • Arundel Amusements (Bingo World)
  • BetMGM Maryland Sports LLC
  • Crown MD Online Gaming LLC (DraftKings)
  • CZR Maryland Mobile Opportunity LLC (Caesars online sportsbook via Horseshoe Casino Baltimore)
  • Greenmount OTB LLC
  • Long Shot’s LLC
  • Maryland Stadium Sub LLC (Washington Commanders)
  • PENN Maryland OSB LLC (Hollywood Casino Perryville)
  • PPE Maryland Mobile LLC (Live! Casino and Hotel)
  • Riverboat on the Potomac

When Maryland did a soft launch of retail sports betting last year, it was a two-day process. First, the sportsbook opened for limited wagering, then officials paused activity to examine operations and determine that all laws were being followed. At that time, an official license was issued.

For mobile sports betting apps, the state will likely allow a short window of time for a soft launch, perhaps limiting the number of wagers each operator can accept. After pausing betting, MLGC officials will audit the process. Only then can an actual sports betting license be issued.

In 2021, when Connecticut performed a soft launch of sports betting, it limited each sportsbook to 750 customers. It allowed sportsbooks to accept bets from that limited group of customers for eight hours on day 1 of the controlled demonstration, and 24 hours by the end of the week.

In 2021, when Maryland ran its controlled demonstration for retail sports betting, some citizens reported confusion over when and how to place wagers.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

About the Author

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes has written three books about sports. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He enjoys writing, running, and lemon bars. He lives near Lake Michigan with his daughters and usually has an orange cream soda nearby.