Cumberland, the county seat of Allegany County, Maryland, is preparing for sports betting. City officials are moving forward with regulations to allow sports betting operations, with the mayor and the City Council conducting a hearing last Tuesday on amending the zoning code to permit this form of gaming.
"In 2021, the state of Maryland passed legislation legalizing sports wagering and fantasy competition subject to state licensing requirements," said at the meeting Morgan Alban, the city's geographic information specialist, according to Cumberland Times-News. "The zoning ordinance currently adopted does not address the conduct of said activities in the city."
The city code would need to be amended to add language permitting fantasy competitions and sports wagering as a recreational use in zoning classifications for the downtown. Officials want to allow sports gaming in this area because local business establishments want to participate and feature gambling in their facilities.
"I think it is something that fits well into some of these local establishments we have here in town," said at the hearing Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss, according to the cited source. "I think it would be a good thing. It's another form of entertainment. There are a couple of people, one on Baltimore Street, and another downtown gentleman has indicated he might apply for it."
Cumberland’s pursuit of sports gaming comes after the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation last year authorizing 60 sports betting apps and 47 retail gaming locations permitted at market maturity. The market made its debut in December, with a select number of casinos commencing operations, with more venues to join in the future and mobile betting yet to launch.
Sports betting formally launched in Maryland on December 9, with the first bets placed at MGM National Harbor. Horseshoe Baltimore and Live! Casino launched their sportsbooks the next day. Ocean Downs and Hollywood Casino Perryville started taking wagers later in the month.
Other venues that have been determined qualified for a wagering license include Bingo World in Anne Arundel County, and off-track betting venues Long Shot’s in Frederick; Greenmount Station in Hampstead; and Riverboat on the Potomac, located in Maryland waters off the coast of Colonial Beach, Virginia.
Thus far, a total of 17 retail licenses have been awarded, including all but one of Maryland’s six casinos, given Rocky Gap Casino Resort announced last year it would not seek a permit. While the 30 remaining licenses aren’t available yet, Cumberland officials believe the state will have them out for parties to apply for them “soon.”
Earlier this month, the Maryland State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency reported sports betting handle in the state for the month of March was $30 million, up from a sharp decline in February but lower than the state’s $32.5 million in sports bets mark achieved in January.
An earlier report indicated the Maryland sports gaming industry hopes to have mobile licenses approved by September 2022. The state’s Gaming Control Agency is working along with the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission in the vetting of applicants, which has been reaching out to women and minority-owned businesses seeking to participate.