Who Is Pushing Maryland Sports Betting Regulators For Uniform Launch?

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Maryland sports betting

. Comments on Maryland sports betting regulations were limited to two main topics during a public meeting Wednesday.

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency hosted the meeting as the 30-day public comment period for the regulations nears its end. The period closes Monday as the MLGCA aims for a “late fall” MD sports betting retail launch.

James Butler, MLGCA managing director of organizational compliance, said the agency already received numerous written comments. Butler said he hopes to present the comments to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission by Oct. 10 so the Maryland Register can publish final regulations in the Oct. 22 edition.

Those dates track with what MLGCA Director John Martin told the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission Tuesday as he pushes for a launch this fall.

No race to the start line?

PointsBet SVP Paul Hannon asked for a formal rule to allow for a launch in unison to avoid unfair advantages.

PointsBet partnered with Riverboat-on-the-Potomac this summer, a minority-owned OTB also among the 17 named entities to receive a license in the legislation.

Other comments also echoed sentiments from Tuesday’s SWARC meeting that suggested additional thought on how to ensure mobile licenses include minority partnerships.

MLB wants official league data, bet restrictions

Major League Baseball Senior Counsel Marquest Meeks said MLB, the NBA and the PGA Tour support the official league data requirement.

“Official league data requirement is consistent with the trend of laws and regulations being passed,” Meeks said. “[It’s] part of our integrity tool kit.”

Meeks also asked for the inclusion of a requirement for sportsbooks to cooperate with investigations and that operators report to sports governing bodies directly, along with the MLGCA, any information about match-fixing and corruption. He also advocated open discussions between the agency and governing bodies about supposedly risky bet types, such as bets on the first pitch of games.

Minority inclusion in MD sports betting

As Butler asked stakeholders to refrain from repeating written comments, many regulations did not receive any suggestions. Several stakeholders, however, were vocal in pushing further support for minority business participation in the sports betting industry.

“The intent of the bill is clearly defined to maximize minority participation,” Maryland Delegate Darryl Barnes said.

Gov. Larry Hogan signed sports betting legislation into law in May. Legislators were explicit in their hopes minority- and women-owned businesses would be active participants in Maryland sports betting.

Active, not passive participants

Bruce Bereano, a lobbyist for the off-track betting facility Long Shots, said he hopes the MLGCC focuses on minority ownership, not subcontracts. The female-owned Long Shots is one of the 17 entities to receive a license in the legislation.

“Ownership was a very strong intent,” Bereano said. “Some people are misinterpreting equity, some people are misinterpreting inclusion.”

Maryland pushes for fall sports betting launch

Maryland voters approved legal sports betting in November 2020. The Maryland General Assembly pushed through enacting legislation this spring that includes more than 100 potential licenses, including up to 60 for mobile sportsbooks.

The MLGCC approved a set of regulations in July, which the Maryland Register then published Aug. 27 starting the 30-day comment period. During the period, the licensing process opened for the 17 entities named in the legislation.

Comments at the SWARC meeting suggest mobile launches could be way off. But it appears the 17 retail licenses could launch later this fall.