Against all odds, Maryland sports betting panel offers more help to minority businesses

Maryland gambling officials are hoping to bring mobile betting to the state in time for the kickoff of the 2022 National Football League season.

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Maryland gambling officials are hoping to bring mobile betting to the state in time for the kickoff of the 2022 National Football League season.

If regulators are successful, fans will be able to bet on professional and college events on their phones, a move that is sure to supercharge the state’s still relatively dormant new sports betting industry.

In virtually every state that has legalized sports betting, mobile has left physical betting in the dust, accounting for around 90% of the handful.

That’s true just about everywhere, too: big companies, those with huge advertising budgets, get the lion’s share of the action – and, therefore, the profits.

This scenario – in which FanDuel and Draft Kings, the Coke and Pepsi of sports betting, dominate – is precisely what the General Assembly sought to avoid after voters approved sports betting in 2020. More than in n Any state in the country, analysts say, Maryland has gone the extra mile to give minority and women-led businesses a chance to break into the new industry.

“For me, the concern is really how do we make sure that — in the spirit of the bill — we’re really looking to diversify candidates who wouldn’t necessarily have an opportunity,” Del said. Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s), leader of the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus.

Given the mandate to give Maryland businesses and minority businesses the opportunity to compete, the state’s Sports Betting Application Review Commission is hosting an educational seminar in early May.

The three-hour event will feature industry experts who have overcome regulatory and financial hurdles. According to SWARC, attendees will get a “window into the true costs of running an online or physical sportsbook” as well as insight into the types of small businesses suitable for sports betting, such as “restaurants, sports bars and the like. entertainment places.

Other experts will discuss the financial costs of operating a bookmaker, security considerations and “the impact of competitive promotions”.

According to experts, the promotions offered by FanDuel and Draft Kings are perhaps the biggest hurdle faced by newcomers to the industry. With their deep pockets and years of marketing experience, companies have proven adept at attracting new customers.

“They have expertise in this area across North America that gives them an edge,” said Zach Hall, industry analyst and spokesperson for the network of sites that includes PlayMaryland.com.

Promotions regularly include “risk-free” bets for new customers that run into the thousands of dollars. (Customers are advised to read the fine print of these offers before jumping in.)

Hall said even “well-established casino brands” like Caesar’s and BetMGM “are struggling to tap into the market leads of Draft Kings and FanDuel.”

Tennessee is one of the few states to have a local operator, Tennessee Action 24/7, which still competes for bettors’ business, but the company is “bottom of the market share list,” said Lobby. “They’ve survived so far, so it’s not impossible. But the idea that they would somehow compete with FanDuel or Draft Kings and win is unfathomable at this point.

Tennessee Action 24/7 had an advantage unavailable to any company in Maryland – they were allowed to operate in November 2020, when sports betting was legalized.

Maryland law set up a tiered process in which existing casinos and racetracks were allowed to open first, as they were already heavily regulated businesses. Entrepreneurs who want to operate bricks-and-mortar or online sports betting here will spend months getting approved, giving way to better-known rivals who will have had a head start by months.

Barnes knows that local start-ups face long odds. He helped organize the May 6 seminar and is the keynote speaker.

“It’s almost like getting into medical cannabis,” the lawmaker said. “It takes a lot of money to really be in this industry, and that’s why I try to do my part to educate people who want to get into this industry.”

Barnes said minority-owned business owners need to be aware of the capital expenditures that will be required “and to really understand what real partnerships look like in a way that we’re still forging some minority ownership in order to create generational wealth”.

Maryland law includes four funds that new businesses can tap into to help recoup some of their start-up costs. SWARC members were told on Thursday that two companies had so far received three grants from the funds.

James R. Nielson, deputy director of the regulatory division of the State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency, told the panel that some newcomers find the application process to be time consuming.

“What we see is what we expected,” he said. “Some of the entities that have less experience in the gaming segment are learning that it’s more complicated than they anticipated. There’s a learning curve for anyone new to the industry and we’re trying to communicate too much.

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