The Maryland sports betting market is adding a new set consumer protections never before tested on books or bettors.
The MD sports betting bill (SB 621), signed into law by Gov. Wes Moore on Tuesday, creates framework designed to ensure sports betting influencers, analysts, or pickers are forthcoming with their records.
Under the law, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission must identify and license independent auditors to evaluate and rate sports wagering content providers working with or for any of the state’s nine online sportsbooks.
It comes as the line between the entity that takes bets and the entity that pushes bets has become increasingly blurred. Not all of the framework, however, is mandatory.
Ratings agency founder pushed Maryland, WV bills
Chris Adams, a former investment banker and founder of Maryland-based sports betting ratings agency, SharpRank, says he saw the need for a third party to vet sportsbooks’ content arm. He worked with bill sponsor Sen. Craig Zucker on the legislation.
“We saw the operator and trader vertically integrated with content with no separation of the two functions,” Adams said. “We’re trying to help avoid what happened with FTX, using people of influence to funnel the public into a topic they don’t understand.”
The bill makes these evaluations non-mandatory, though Adams believes it is an opportunity for legal sportsbooks to set themselves apart from the offshore market. A similar bill backed by Adams was introduced in West Virginia, though it made the evaluations mandatory. It died before the session ended in March.
“Their big pushback initially was, ‘we’re not going to agree to be mandated to do something that we don’t know if it works yet.’ We told the states that’s totally fair,” Adams said. “But, if we don’t start to create an overarching umbrella of regulation for compliance and consumer protections that spans all the states, similar to blue sky laws, something will fill that void in a manner that could be harmful to the operator.”
Sportsbooks as their own promoters?
FanDuel launched its TV channel, FanDuel TV, in September, where prominent media personalities such as Kay Adams discuss the betting angles of various sporting events.
Meanwhile, those companies and their competitors partner with social media accounts and affiliate websites to provide sports betting recommendations.
Maryland sports betting operators quiet in hearings
BetMGM was the only operator to testify against the bill, though as it progressed through the legislature, they became absent from hearings.
A lobbyist with the operator argued that Maryland has more than enough guardrails for consumer protection.
Maryland, which authorized sports betting via a ballot referendum in 2020, notably took the longest of any legal state to go live with an online market amid regulatory hurdles and bureaucratic snafus.