Caesars Doubts Maryland to Launch Mobile Sports Betting in 2022

Caesars Entertainment is hedging its bets on whether it will invest in Maryland mobile sports betting this year.

In a call for first quarter 2022 results On Tuesday, Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said he was “skeptical of Maryland launching mobile in 22.” Instead, the company plans to focus its digital investments this year on Ohio – a market that is expected to generate $3.35 billion in the handful of fully mature annual sportsbooks.

Reeg said most of Caesars’ digital investments will likely be funneled into Ohio sportsbooks because state regulators prepare begin licensing it in mid-2022.

“We have an Ohio launch ahead of us, that would be the only launch I can think of that would have significant costs,” Reeg said. “And so how we get off the beaten path in Ohio will be a determining factor in terms of where we would be, but those are the rights we have.”

Ohio is set to launch later this year after the state legalized retail and online sports betting in December 2021.

Why Caesars is skeptical about Maryland

Reeg doesn’t fully count Maryland in 2022. He made it clear that Caesars plans to invest in digital sports betting in Maryland “If and when launching the mobile. You should expect us to be competitive there as well.

The comments come as the Old Line State has yet to pass all of the regulations necessary to award 60 potential mobile licenses. The rules are still being drafted by the Sports Betting Application Review Commission, or SWARC – one of two regulatory bodies overseeing the sports betting industry in Maryland.

It has been five months since in-person sports betting launched in Maryland. Up to 47 retail licenses (including 17 guaranteed locations pending regulatory verification) and up to 60 mobile licenses have been authorized under a 2021 sports betting law.

Only five Maryland sportsbooks have been launched so far – all of the 17 sites designated by law.

Regulations must be adopted by SWARC before mobile license applications can be submitted. SWARC is authorized by law to award up to 60 mobile licenses to qualified applicants, once settlements are filed.

SWARC will also be responsible for awarding up to 30 competitive retail licenses that are not among the 17 locations designated for licensing in a 2021 state law.

So far, SWARC has not specified when the regulations will be adopted.

Rather, the commission says on its website it is to “draft regulations to govern the application process”. He is also, he says, conducting an “industry analysis” of the current sports betting market.

“These tasks must be completed before the application process can begin,” the commission says. “Updates on the status of SWARC regulations will be provided on swarc.org as regulations are promulgated.”

Caesars in Ontario

Caesars is also not particularly optimistic about Ontario, whose regulated sports betting industry was launched in April.

“You shouldn’t expect us to throw a lot of money in Ontario,” Reeg said when the results were called. “We expect to be a player. We expect the market to grow steadily, but it’s not going to be a big needle mover one way or another for us.