By James Hammer
When the Maryland House and Senate passed a sports betting bill last month, 60 was the magic number.
That’s how many licenses will be allowed — assuming Gov. Lawrence Hogan signs it — far more than other states allow, and it was done to give smaller companies a chance to get a piece of the action.
“It’s impressive to me that lawmakers have set up a situation to try to incentivize inclusivity and diversity into what they’re doing,” said Jessica Welman, an analyst with PlayMaryland.com. “It’s something we haven’t seen before and I really hope that some of these small operators kind of turn into a David and Goliath story that we can come back in a year and talk about how well they’re doing.”
But the odds might be stacked even greater among some of those smaller companies than they were against the biblical character.
“In most sports betting states that have launched, what we’ve seen is there’s this top-tier of Fan Duel (which has a partnership with the Washington Football Team to operate in Virginia already) and Draft Kings, there’s a second tier of Bet MGM and, where it is, Barstool Sports Book in the states it’s in,” Welman said. “Then there’s a series of smaller operators that kind of vary from state to state.”
She says the big problem for the smaller operators in Maryland won’t be whether they can get in the door — though just doing that isn’t likely to be cheap — but whether they can actually have an impact on the betting market.