Gamblers spent big on mobile sports betting in first days following Maryland launch

Published 12/12/2022 11:33 a.m. EST, Updated 12/13/2022 7:20 a.m. EST

A hand hold a mobile phone with four sports betting apps displayed.
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Gamblers using their sports betting apps wagered over $186 million in the first eight days that online betting was operational at the end of November, according to the latest monthly revenue report from state regulators posted Monday.

The amount gambled on state’s first seven mobile sports gambling apps included nearly $64 million in free play promotional wagers funded by the apps.

The mobile gamblers won back $160 million.

The amount of money spent on mobile sports gambling in a little more than a week dwarfed the $33 million that bettors gambled at brick-and-mortar sports betting locations throughout the course of the entire month. The apps went live on Nov. 23, the day before Thanksgiving.

Because of the significant promotions — some apps offered hundreds of dollars worth of free bets to lure in gamblers — the mobile sports gambling industry had a net loss of about $38 million in the month of November.

As a result, the mobile app operators contributed very little to the state’s coffers. Typically, they are required to send 15% of their “taxable win” or profits to the state.

Of the seven sports gambling apps, only the BetRivers app that’s tied to Bingo World in Brooklyn Park made a profit — about $28,000, which translated to a $4,261.65 contribution to the state.

The other six apps posted losses, ranging from $35,000 (PointsBet, tied to the Riverboat on the Potomac in Charles County) to $18.5 million (FanDuel, tied to the Live! Casino and Hotel in Anne Arundel County).

The gambling apps are allowed to offer unlimited promotional offers in the first 12 months of operation; after that, they’re limited to spending up to 20% of their profits on free play promotions.

John Martin, director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said the offers of hundreds of dollars in free bets won’t last forever.

“There was tremendous pent up demand, and a lot of people are utilizing promotional offers from multiple operators simultaneously,” Martin said in a statement Monday. “But as many of the operators have acknowledged, this level of promotional play is not sustainable, and based on our regulations, it will be curtailed over time.”

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Gamblers won about $28.2 million from in-person sports gambling. The gambling facilities had a taxable win of about $4.7 million resulting in a $700,000 payment to the state. Five of the state’s casinos, three off-track-betting facilities and Bingo World are licensed for in-person sports gambling.

The total sports gambling industry — mobile and in person combined — managed a total of $219 million in wagers in November. That’s a significant increase from October’s in-person-only sports gambling handle of $39.6 million.

The state’s cut of sports gambling profits is 15%, with the license holders keeping 85%. The state’s money is mostly earmarked for an education improvement program known as the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

A small portion also goes to the state’s Problem Gambling Fund. Those concerned about problem gambling can reach out for help through 1-800-GAMBLER or

Maryland law allows for up to 60 mobile apps for sports gambling in the state. So far, 10 have been issued licenses, but three of the licensed companies have yet to launch operations.

More applicants are waiting for approval and are expected to be considered on a rolling basis. The state’s application approval commission has a meeting scheduled later this week.

The launch of mobile sports gambling was a long time coming in Maryland. Voters approved expanding the state’s gambling industry to include sports gambling in 2020. It took about one year for in-person locations to be licensed for sports gambling, then another year for mobile sports gambling licenses to be awarded.

The licensing process involved both the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency and a newly-created Sports Wagering Application Review Commission. Commission members have said they worked to ensure there was racial and gender diversity among licensed companies.

This story has been updated to correct Riverboat on the Potomac's name.