MARYLAND (FOX 5 DC) - After more than a year of delays, the first casino in Maryland has announced it's ready to launch its sports gambling operation on Friday.
Critics say it has taken too long for sports betting to get up and running in the state after Maryland voters overwhelmingly approved sports gambling in a November 2020 referendum.
Maryland Live! has partnered with FanDuel who will be running the sportsbook in the new facility the casino has built called "Maryland Sports and Social. Customers will be able to go to a betting window, place a wager on a game and then sit back and watch on giant screens.
Maryland Live! was one of the first casinos in the state. Now, customers say they're excited to not have to travel to D.C. or Virginia to place legal bets.
"It’s about time," one fan said. "All of the other states have it, Maryland’s behind and I like to see them go forward with this!"
In preparation for this launch, Maryland Live! began a demonstration with regulators from the Maryland Lottery to show how all their systems work. As part of this test, people were able to place wagers and all of the casino's profits are being donated to Toys for Tots.
The process to bring legal sports betting to Maryland was a long one due in part to the layers of regulations added by the general assembly.
"The goal was to get it done before playoff season where they will make a heck of a lot of money for the state of Maryland, but I don’t know exactly why the commission couldn’t get its work done, but I think you should be able to place a bet today," says Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.
FOX 5 has learned that Gov. Hogan will be at Maryland Live! on Friday morning to cut a ribbon and place the first legal bet in the history of Maryland.
The state recently approved five casinos to begin sports gambling and they are expected to make announcements in the coming days.
Pending regulatory approval, MGM National Harbor and BetMGM will accept the state’s first sports wagers on Thursday. Gov. Larry Hogan and Washington Football star Joe Theismann will be in attendance.