There were no ceremonial speeches or anything like that. Ahead of a quick ribbon cutting, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, along with Prince George’s County Councilman Calvin Hawkins and Washington Football Team emissary Joe Theismann, cast the ceremonial first wagers at MGM National Harbor.
With that, sports bets can now be placed legally in Maryland.
The new sports book at National Harbor has room for about 350 to 400 sports fans to drink and dine and watch the sports they wager on. In fact, it’s pretty easy to watch sports in there.
“This stands up to any sports book in the country,” said Christopher Gumiela, a vice president of marketing for MGM. He calls it “a normal sports bar on steroids.”
“The energy that you will get in this casino, in this sports book, will be second to none,” he said. “The first thing that you’ll see are the digital screens. We have two amazing large-format digital screens. One is 110 feet across, the other is what we call a ‘halo screen,’ which is around our bar. It’s an oval shape that has digital [screens] on the inside and outside.”
Gumiela explained that the TV set-up allows people to view a screen from almost anywhere.
Hogan called it a great day for Maryland, National Harbor and Prince George’s County.
“MGM is a great boost,” said the governor. “I think this is going to bring more people into the area, more people coming out here to watch games in this great new facility to bet on things. And it’s going to put people to work,” he added, noting the number of small and minority-owned businesses that contract with MGM, as well as the jobs the venue has created locally.
“It’s bringing in tax revenue,” he said.
Money generated from sports betting will go to the state’s education trust fund. Although the rollout of sports betting has been slow, long-term projections have the state netting $15 million to $25 million every year once everything is up and running.
However, the state is still a long way away from getting there. For now, the casinos approved to host sports wagering can only take bets made on-site with cash. Mobile betting — which is the most popular form of sports gambling and is already up and running in D.C. and Virginia — remains several months away in Maryland.
Hogan admitted the state has fallen behind its neighbors, but expressed confidence it would begin to catch up. Getting to this point is one of the reasons why the governor called his first bet here as a “win-win” for the state of Maryland. Hogan dropped $50 on what he described as a “really long-shot” bet.
Then he held up a ticket that he said has both the Washington Football Team and the Baltimore Ravens each advancing to play each other in the upcoming Super Bowl.
“An all-Maryland Super Bowl out in L.A.,” said the governor. “The only loser is MGM because they’re going to have to pay me more than $20,000 when I hit this one.”
And if he doesn’t hit, well, that’s a few bucks that’ll get directed to the state’s public school system.
The governor will also be on hand for the opening of Maryland Live! in Anne Arundel County and the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, which both debut sports betting on Friday. The state expects two other venues, one in Perryville and one outside Ocean City, to begin taking wagers on sporting events by the end of the month.