Maryland Open for Sports Betting License Applications

Maryland will be the next state in which sports betting – both online and at retail locations – becomes available. The state held a referendum on the regulation of sports betting last November, and the voters were in favor – Maryland’s betting bill was signed into law this spring, hoping for the first operators to begin working by the time the NFL season starts. Now, the state’s regulator has approved 17 retail locations where operators can begin to work – and two race tracks are among them.

The locations

Before online horse racing betting becomes available, Maryland locals will have to make do with retail locations where they’ll be able to place their bets on sporting events. The list of venues approved to run betting operations, approved by the state’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission in an August meeting, include a series of casinos and resorts, the Maryland State Fairgrounds, the Jockey Bar and Grill, the Riverboat on the Potomac, as well as Laurel Park Race Track and the Pimlico Race Track. And all the locations named in the state’s sports betting legislation will be able to apply for online sports betting licenses in the future. Also, NHL, NBA, and MLS franchises that lease a stadium in the state will be able to apply for a betting license.

The operators

Maryland’s sports betting market is starting to take shape with operators partnering up – or buying up – local gambling companies.

Barstool Sportsbook, run by Penn National Gaming, acquired Hollywood Casino (one of the locations named in the state’s betting legislation) last December. Horseshoe Casino is already owned by Caesars, and MGM National Harbor is, of course, owned by MGM Resorts International that runs a number of outlets in Nevada, New Jersey, and abroad. PointsBet New Jersey partnered up, this June, with Riverboat on the Potomac, a licensed satellite simulcast facility for horseracing.

Applications to open later

Maryland still has 23 unnamed retail sports betting licenses up for grabs that the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission plans to open for applications later in the year. At the same time, the MLGC plans to accept applications for 60 online betting licenses and further retail locations. The state’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission still has to establish the rules for evaluating applications before the state can award any further licenses. As expected, the SWARC will give priority to minority- or women-owned businesses in the area.

 

If all goes as planned, regulated sports betting may become a thing in Maryland in “late fall, early winter”, Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency director John Martin told the press. “It is our intent to expedite the process as efficiently as we can to get us there. We’re still very much pushing for football season”.

Industry Profile: Trainer King Leatherbury, The King of Maryland

Editor’s Note:  I had the good fortune of working for trainer King Leatherbury one summer at both Pimlico and Laurel.  Although I worked on the backstretch for him, I was also doing a college internship in which I analyzed his accounting ledgers dating back a couple of decades to determine whether or  not his owners made owners.  Incredibly, they actually did.  An article was written, and with the help of editor Mark Simon, it was published in the now-defunct Thoroughbred Times (April 24, 1994).  ~ Rich Nilsen

King Leatherbury knows how he wants his training career to be defined. He knows how he would like to be remembered.

“If I wanted something on my tombstone,” he said, “it would just be, ‘He won races.’ ”

Leatherbury, 87, has won races all right. He ranked fourth all-time with 6,455 victories when he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2015, the ultimate exclamation point to a career that has spanned parts of seven decades. He currently ranks fifth on the all-time list of leading trainers by wins with more than 6,500.

The Maryland native stayed close to his roots in winning at least 100 races per season for 26 consecutive years from 1972 to 1997. He won at least 200 races every year from 1974 to 1984. He won more often than any other Thoroughbred trainer in the nation in 1976 and 1977.

Business boomed even as he competed against the likes of [trainers] Bud Delp, Dick Dutrow, and John Tammaro, a group so formidable they became known as the “Big Four.”   Continue reading about legendary horseman King Leatherbury.

Maryland Racing Industry at Crossroads

Total wagering on the rescheduled, closed-door Preakness Stakes program at Pimlico last Saturday was down nearly 50% from its 2019 renewal, a pandemic-impacted decline similar to that experienced at the Kentucky Derby, which was moved from May to September.

Even in pre-pandemic times, a majority of wagering on horse racing is conducted online, through legal betting platforms like BetPTC.com, TwinSpires, TVG and Xpressbet. Since March, almost all wagering comes via these channels. Betting in person has grown increasingly rare in the internet era, and even more so in 2020. For perspective, of the $369 million bet on races at Laurel Park in 2019, the Maryland Racing Commission’s annual report records that $350.2 million, nearly 95%, came from bettors outside of Maryland…