Maryland sports betting will have to wait at least another two weeks.
On Wednesday, the Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission acknowledged the status of five casino applications for retail sports betting in Maryland. The commission then went into a closed session for more than two hours.
After their return, the commission voted to request supplemental ownership information from the casinos. Then it decided on Nov. 18 as the next meeting date, in which they plan to vote on the licenses.
“We all heard a lot, we got our written legal advice, what will be our next milestone?” SWARC Chairman Thomas Brandt said prior to setting the meeting date. “We shouldn’t have long soliloquies next time, these marathons should and will be behind us.”
Casinos waiting for MD sports betting launch
Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission approved the five casino licenses for “alternative licensing standards.” All five hold Maryland casino licenses and the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency deemed them sufficiently vetted.
Once awarded licenses by the SWARC, the retail MD sportsbooks just need final systems approval from the MLGCA.
The five casinos waiting for approval to launch retail sportsbooks are:
- Hollywood Casino (Barstool Sportsbook)
- Horseshoe Baltimore (Caesars Sportsbook)
- Live! Casino Maryland (FanDuel Sportsbook)
- MGM National Harbor (BetMGM Sportsbook)
- Ocean Downs (TwinSpires Sportsbook)
Late fall hope for retail MD sports betting launch
At the SWARC’s first meeting in August, the commission approved 17 entities named in the MD sports betting legislation, including the five now back on the SWARC’s plate.
MLGCA Director John Martin put a late-fall goal for a retail sports betting launch.
Martin said mobile sports betting could be up to 12 months away. There are up to 60 competitively bid mobile licenses available, but the SWARC has not determined how to award them yet.
SWARC pushing launch back
The SWARC was supposed to meet Oct. 14 but the meeting was postponed without explanation. The commission could have approved the first three licenses at that meeting.
In the meantime, the MLGCC approved an additional two casinos for alternative licensing standards Oct. 21.
Despite relative silence from SWARC members, they appear to be working out how to award competitive bid retail and mobile licenses. After a closed session at the SWARC’s September meeting, commissioners voted in favor of an additional disparity study.
Maryland residents getting impatient
Maryland voters approved sports betting at the ballots in November 2020.
Gov. Larry Hogan signed Maryland sports betting legislation in May 2021. Several other governors also signed legislation this spring and launched sports betting in their states.
In October, Hogan started publicly calling for the SWARC to move quickly, starting with a tweet. Since then, Hogan told Maryland Matters the executive branch approved the licenses and “should already have been taken bets a couple of weeks ago.”