HomeMaryland Sports Betting NewsMaryland Regulators Put Foot Down Against Sportsbook Operators

Maryland Regulators Put Foot Down Against Sportsbook Operators

U.S. sportsbook operators have run into pushback in some states against their efforts to maximize revenues - including in Maryland.

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In that state, mobile sportsbook companies in Maryland – who first launched last November – recently sought the removal of a regulation that requires the books to submit specific descriptions of any promotional offer at least 48 hours before the promotion goes “live.”

Instead, the operators offered to promise to notify regulators about promotions within five business days after it began. Of course, that would mean that the promotion could gain significant traction among bettors before regulators even knew about it.

Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency Director John Martin told The Baltimore Sun that a proper balance must be struck by his agency.

“We’re eager for Maryland’s sports wagering industry to thrive and generate funding for education, and we’re also mindful of consumer protections,” Martin said. “We provide guidance to sportsbook operators so they may bring a variety of promotions to the market. At the same time, we feel that reviewing the details of promotions before they launch is a reasonable step that’s in the best interests of consumers.”

But in a joint proposal submitted to Maryland regulators, the operators stressed that: “The submission of promotions prior to advertising/marketing efforts limits the ability to adequately consider promotions because of unknown variables which often accompany events that are attractive for sports bettors.”

The example given was of an NCAA March Madness team located in Maryland advancing to the next round only two days later. The 48-hour window, in effect, would prevent the sportsbooks from offering special wagering promotions to alumni and other fans of that team.

Sportsbooks were Warned

Just before mobile sports betting in Maryland launched last year, a Maryland regulator sent out a letter to each operator – DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars, and BetMGM.

“Please share this with your marketing teams,” the letter read. “We have deemed the ‘Risk-Free’ language used in sports betting promotions as predatory. Going forward, it shall not be allowed to be included in any Maryland-specific advertising or promotions.”

The rejection of ‘Risk-Free’ advertising has been addressed in a number of other states as well, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The American Gaming Association has directed its members to remove such misleading language from its marketing efforts.

Aside from the joint request, DraftKings submitted its own plea to remove a regulation limiting the total dollar amount of annual free bets that sportsbooks are permitted to offer. The cap is based on a formula related to the amount of taxable revenue produced each year.

Sportsbook partnerships with universities also have been under fire in various states, and they have been banned in Maryland.

The Latest Maryland Betting Numbers

The $328 million in wagers placed in Maryland in May led to $4.6 million in tax revenues that go to the state’s education fund and to problem gambling assistance programs.

The state has collected more than $27 million in taxes in about 18 months of legal wagering in the state.

Sportsbook operators have pointed out that relaxing rules that limit their advertising also minimizes the total tax revenues raised.

The state has 10 mobile sportsbook operators and 10 brick-and-mortar sites offering legal sports betting.

As usual, sportsbook competition for market share in Maryland in May was a “two-horse race.” FanDuel took in $146.3 million in bets, while fellow daily fantasy sports giant DraftKings accepted $101.9 million in wagers.

BetMGM Maryland was a very distant third, with $27.5 million in bets placed.

But the three books had more in common when it came to “hold percentage” – the amount of money retained by the sportsbooks after having paid off winning bettors.

While anything in the 7% to 8% range is considered manageable by sportsbook operators, this trio did far better in May. FanDuel retained a remarkable 15.9% of its handle, DraftKings kept 12.2%, and BetMGM retained 12.9%.

While barely more than a half-million was wagered at SuperBook in Maryland in May, those gamblers did extremely well – getting back all but 1.6%. Still, thanks to FanDuel’s huge number, the books collectively kept a whopping 13.5%.

As is typical across the U.S., more than 90% of wagers in Maryland in May came via mobile sportsbooks.