The Maryland Lottery & Gaming Control Agency last week found at its monthly meeting that Queen Sportsbook Maryland LLC is qualified for a Mobile Sports Wagering License, and also for an Online Sports Wagering Operator License.
“Queen” is 95% owned by Casino Queen Interactive, which itself is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Queen Casino Entertainment, Inc. Finally, SG CQ Gaming LLC is the parent company of each entity.
Most notable in the agency’s announcement is that Soohyung Kim – chairman of the Board at the Bally’s gaming company – has a majority interest in Queen.
Bally’s has had a whirlwind few years since 2019, when it was known as Twin River Worldwide Holdings with just two casinos in Rhode Island and another in Mississippi.
In 2020, the company purchased a total of five more casinos in Colorado, Missouri, and Mississippi. Later that same year, the company purchased the rights to the Bally’s brand from Caesars Entertainment while also adding the Bally’s casino in Atlantic City as well as another casino in Louisiana.
Then in 2021 and 2022, Bally’s acquired casinos in Nevada, Illinois, and Indiana.
But the biggest splash by the ever-expanding empire came in May 2022, when then-Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot chose Bally’s $1.7 billion plan to construct the city’s first casino. A temporary version is expected to open by the end of this summer, with the permanent site opening its doors in 2026.
The agency’s approval sets the stage for analysis of the Mobile Sports Wagering License application by the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), which is the entity that – along with the Maryland Lottery – ultimately approves licenses.
A Familiar Name in The American Gaming Landscape
While Bally’s is a familiar name in the American gaming landscape, it has no connection to the original Bally’s Entertainment – which opened in 1932 as a pinball machine operator and slot machine provider Bally Manufacturing.
That company grew dramatically in the 1970s and 1980s, obtaining the licenses for iconic video games Pac-Man and Space Invaders while also purchasing the Six Flags Amusement Park chain and opening a chain of gyms called Bally’s Total Fitness and opening a casino in Atlantic City.
Bally’s Entertainment ultimately retrenched in the 1990s, selling off many of its main assets. The remaining division was sold to Hilton Hotels Corporation, and the Bally’s name lived on only its Atlantic City and Las Vegas casino properties until Twin River acquired the naming rights.
More Approvals in Maryland
In the same meeting, the commission also approved the purchase of the western Maryland casino Rocky Gap Casino Resort by Century Maryland Acquisition Inc. and VICI Properties.
Earlier in April, SWARC awarded a mobile sports wagering license as well as a retail sports betting license.
The former entity is Veterans Services Corporation, which is a partner of Intralot for neighboring Washington, D.C.’s online sports betting operation. The company will partner in Maryland with Bee Fee Limited, a gaming software company that is based in the United Kingdom.
Whitman Gaming, meanwhile, has plans for a brick-and-mortar sportsbook at a sports bar in North Bethesda known as Sports and Social. Whitman’s partners will include FanDuel and Live! Casino & Hotel.
Regulators first allowed sports betting in 2021, and since then nine online sportsbooks have opened in Maryland – with familiar names such as Caesars, BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel among them. There also are 10 retail sportsbooks, and more expansion on both fronts is expected in the next few years.