Maryland Sports Betting Companies Would Face More Audits Under Proposal

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Maryland sports betting

Maryland sports betting operators may soon face additional regulatory hurdles.

A recently introduced bill (SB 621) would require MD sports betting operators, influencers, and content partners to undergo independent audits, resulting in a rating from the state. For already-approved sportsbooks it would mean an extra layer of vetting on top of the extensive review they undergo to earn licenses.

The Maryland sports betting market only went online in November, but already, bill sponsor Sen. Craig Zucker believes more is needed to ensure Marylanders are betting with the right operators.

“It addresses advertising, people who aren’t necessarily being honest with spreads, lines, etc.,” Zucker told LSR. “We want to make sure we have extra protections that go above and beyond the current statute.”

Bill sponsor working with auditor

Zucker has been working closely with SharpRank, a Maryland-based sportsbook evaluator, to craft the bill.

The company’s CEO and co-founder, Chris Adams, believes that SharpRank is one of the only companies qualified to conduct these audits under the bill’s current language, he said during a Senate Budget and Taxation Committee hearing Wednesday. Adams said he drew his company’s inspiration from hearing a radio ad that made claims about guaranteed picks.

Zucker plans to add an amendment to the bill that eases the severity of a bad evaluation, though he avoided specifics. Once the bill is amended, Adams predicts that larger accounting firms such as KPMG and PwC will enter the space, he said during the hearing.

How would Maryland sports betting audits work?

Under the bill, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency would identify and accredit companies to rate sports wagering content provided by so-called experts, influencers, and content partners.

The MLGC, along with the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission, have approved 10 in-person and eight online sportsbooks after years of stalled regulatory proceedings.

BetMGM: Maryland regulators doing just fine

Kerry Watson, regional vice president for government affairs at MGM Resorts International, spoke out against the bill.

“I can assure you gaming operators are not offering guaranteed winnings on anything,” Watson said.

BetMGM was recently fined $145,000 by the MLGC for what the company called a technical error that allowed online betting before the state’s official launch date. It was Maryland’s largest gaming-related fine ever.

“I have the opportunity to work with regulators all over the country and I can say, carefully, but surely, this is one of the best,” Watson said. “When we make a mistake, we are corrected by that agency and if we were to betray the trust of that agency, we can lose our license to operate. In terms of motivation to do the right thing, I’d say that’s a pretty good incentive.”

The bill would take effect July 1, 2023 if passed by the Maryland General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Wes Moore. It is still pending a first vote in its committee.