With Legal Sports Betting Looming, Live! Casino & Hotel Unveils New Sports Bar

By Amanda Yeager | Baltimore Business Journal

For an indication of the hopes that Live! Casino & Hotel operator The Cordish Companies is pinning on the impending arrival of sports betting in Maryland, look no further than the placement of the new, sports-themed venue inside its Hanover, Md., casino.

Sports & Social — a lounge and restaurant offering massive TV screens, social games and, eventually, sports wagering kiosks — sits right in the heart of the gaming floor, the latest showpiece for the 9-year-old Live.

The $15 million venue, which opened to the public at the end of April, is “in the absolute center of the casino,” said Reed Cordish, a principal for Baltimore-based Cordish Cos., the developer of Live-branded concepts locally and across the country. “It needed to be this jewel, this incredible energy zone.”

The Live! sports bar makes its debut as the state is gearing up to accept applications from operators interested in offering sports betting. Earlier this year, the Maryland General Assembly passed sports wagering legislation for both retail and online sports betting, and Gov. Larry Hogan signed it into law May 18. The law allows for casinos, race tracks, professional sports stadiums and bingo facilities, among other venues, to apply for licenses to offer sports betting on-site. Separately, applicants can apply for mobile and online betting.

Approval of licenses is still several months away at the earliest, newly retired Maryland Lottery and Gaming director Gordon Medenica told the BBJ earlier this spring. Cordish said April 27 he’s hoping an initial stage of licensing will be complete by late summer or early fall.

“We would love our guests to be able to experience the whole football season” with sports betting as an option, he said. “When the state goes live, we will go live.”

In the meantime, Sports & Social aims to become a hub for sports fans looking to catch a game, with 100 linear feet of LED screens. The lounge’s main 47-foot-wide screen, positioned above the bar, has the capacity to display more than a dozen games at once.

“Whatever’s on, we’ll have on,” including pay-per-view features, said Rob Norton, the president of the Cordish Gaming Group.

The 13,775-square-foot venue integrates casino games into the Sports & Social experience, with booths featuring popular games like roulette, craps, blackjack and baccarat. There are social games, too, including foosball and air hockey tables, and — in a nod to Baltimore — two small duckpin bowling alleys.

The Cordish Cos. announced its partnership with FanDuel in 2019, and Sports & Social’s sportsbooks are branded with the bookmaker’s logo. The sports betting infrastructure is already in place at the bar, with self-service wagering kiosks and a two-sided retail window facing into the bar and out onto the gaming floor. Norton said the casino plans to apply for a mobile betting license as well, so that bettors can place wagers from their computers and mobile devices.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Max Touhey

Issue 269: June/July 2021

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