As Sports Gambling Debate Ramps Up, Casino Commits to Minority Business Partner

The Horseshoe casino in downtown Baltimore. Photo courtesy of Caesars.

A Baltimore casino announced on Monday that if it is able to secure a sports betting license, it will take on a minority business partner for the enterprise.

In a news release, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore committed to a minimum 25% minority stake in any sports wagering license it’s able to obtain.

“The plan is consistent with the casino’s mission to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in all facets of its business,” the release stated.

Horseshoe’s early declaration underscores the prominent role that minority participation will play as the legislature delves more deeply into sports wagering in the wake of November’s referendum.

Maryland voters approved sports gambling overwhelmingly, but the ballot question was silent on how the industry should operate. Sen. Guy Guzzone (D-Howard), the chairman of the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee, has said he will create an informal sports betting work group to hash all the issues that need to be resolved.

That panel has yet to meet.

While the legislature has a laundry list of issues to work through, the issue of minority participation already looms as paramount among them.

Given the role of African Americans in U.S. sports, any new and potentially lucrative business that springs up around professional athletics needs to have Black entrepreneurs at the table, Black lawmakers have said.

“The biggest nut to crack will be how do you handle the minority business piece,” Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George’s), chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, told Maryland Matters earlier this month.

“There are a number of members of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland who are deeply disappointed with how it played out with medical cannabis, and there is a steely determination that there won’t be a repeat of that,” he added.

Horseshoe is partnering with William Hill, a London-based industry leader in sports wagering. The casino “and its minority owners will submit a strong application for a sports betting license,” the company pledged.

“We are committed to ensuring the ownership of our proposed operation reflects the community in which we do business,” Horseshoe Baltimore Senior Vice President and General Manager Randy Conroy said.

“We are proud of the integral role we have played over the years supporting a wide range of community organizations, from workforce development programs to educational initiatives. As part of that ongoing commitment to our community, we look forward to announcing further details of our sports betting partnership in the near future.”

Last year the Washington Football Team signaled that a minority business partner would have a robust stake in any sports betting operation it launches.

On Monday, a team source indicated that they “are repeating their commitment with legislators, first voiced last year, to create a partnership with a Maryland-based minority business in pursuant of a sports betting license.”

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Bruce DePuyt
Bruce DePuyt spent nearly three decades on local television, including 14 years as executive producer and host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the Washington, D.C., area. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County and as reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, VA. He's a regular contributor to WTOP (103.5 FM) and frequently moderates community and political events.