Ocean Downs interior-file-2

Sports betting is officially greenlit at Ocean Downs Casino.

According to a wire story from The Center Square, the Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission approved in-house sports betting licenses for five Maryland casinos, including the Berlin gambling facility, on Nov. 19.

Ocean Downs General Manager Bobbi Sample said in an email that John Martin, the director of the Maryland Lottery & Gaming Control Agency, has estimated that the casinos that were approved by the lottery commission and awarded by the application review commission — including Ocean Downs — will be up and running with in-person sports wagering within 30 to 45 days.

“He has also estimated that online sports wagering in the state will be available roughly six months after the brick and mortar facilities are open,” she said.

The Center square story said the other four casinos approved for licenses last week, out of the 30 cleared to apply, were Horseshoe Casino, Live! Casino in Hanover, MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill and Hollywood Casino in Perryville.

The approvals come on the heels of pressure from Gov. Larry Hogan to launch sports wagering in the state as soon as possible. Maryland is losing revenue to neighboring states that already have both in-house and mobile sports betting in operation.

“It’s clear to me the public wants casino gambling, they want sports wagering,” Committee member Randy Marriner said during last week’s meeting. “I think it’s our duty to do the job. Every day that we don’t pass ... the state of Maryland is losing revenue because those gamblers are going to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware D.C. and not only doing sports wagering but while they’re there they’re spending money in the casino.”

Not everyone was on board with the approvals, though.

The Center Square story said that because no minority- and women-owned businesses have their applications ready for approval, two committee members were leery of approving the other licenses.

“It would be in our best interests if, for no other reason but for perception only, to wait until some of these other applicants have been vetted by the lottery commission and so when it comes to our commission we now have a more diverse population and we are approving these licenses at the same time,” Committee member Cassandra Stevenson said.

She and member Frank Turner voted against the approvals.

Voters approved sports betting in Maryland last November, and lawmakers ironed out the details during the 2021 session. The legislation allows 60 online operators and 30 retail sportsbooks — including casinos, professional sports stadiums, small businesses and others — to obtain licenses.

Ocean Downs applied for an A-2 license, which carries a $1 million application fee as well as costs for background investigations.

Officials initially hoped to launch sports betting operations in time for the start of the NFL season, but the timeline was pushed back.

This story appears in the print edition of the OC Today on Nov. 26.

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