Md. sports betting isn’t legal yet, but the state’s 1st sportsbook opens

Sports and Social is more of a sports bar than a sportsbook for now, but the new $15 million facility at Maryland Live! Casino at Arundel Mills is open. (WTOP/John Domen)
Sports and Social includes skee-ball, foosball and two duckpin bowling lanes. (WTOP/John Domen)
Sports betting isn’t legal in Maryland yet, but Sports and Social is open on the assumption it will be this year. (WTOP/John Domen)
Fan Duel is partnering with Sports and Social to offer mobile wagering. (WTOP/John Domen)

Sports betting isn’t legal yet in Maryland, but the state’s first sportsbook has already opened in anticipation that the day will be coming.

Maryland lawmakers have passed a bill legalizing sports wagering, and it’s expected that Gov. Larry Hogan will sign it, though he hasn’t yet.

That makes Sports and Social more of a sports bar than a sportsbook for now, but the new $15 million facility at Maryland Live! Casino at Arundel Mills is open.

The first thing you notice is wall of video monitors — 100 feet long and 47 feet high. They can be networked together to form a few giant screen TVs, or, if there’s a lot happening, they can show lots of games and screens of betting odds at the same time.

There’s bar seating, recliners for the high rollers, and booths for those who want to eat and drink while watching games.

“It really is a sports fan’s heaven,” said Steven Micheletti, the vice president of food and beverage for Live! Casinos.

But the social aspect of Sports and Social, with a foosball table, skee-ball and two duckpin bowling lanes, will also play a big role in bringing customers, he added — not to mention the slot machines and the table games of the casino itself.

The expensive buildout comes even though a significant majority of money wagered on sporting events gets gambled through mobile apps. Maryland Live! has partnered with Fan Duel, one of the biggest mobile apps in the gaming industry, so the location will offer betting kiosks, a retail counter where you hand your betting slip to someone, and mobile accessibility.

But Micheletti also believes the food and beverage offerings, as well as the atmosphere generated by hundreds of fans invested in the outcomes of different games, will make it a unique social experience.

“It’s just a different experience,” Micheletti said. “It’s just an extraordinarily comfortable and inviting environment to really have a great time. It’s really as simple as that.”

Sports and Social is also working to open another location in the White Flint area at the Pike and Rose development on the corner of Old Georgetown Road and Grand Park Avenue, just off Rockville Pike. That’s expected to open in the fall, which is also when the Live! location hopes to be able to start taking wagers.

The exact time frame will be in the hands of the Maryland Lottery, assuming Hogan signs the legislation that passed earlier this month.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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