A key process to launch mobile Maryland sports betting has begun, but regulators still have plenty of work ahead of them.
In a Wednesday update to the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission, Assistant Attorney General David Stamper said a new disparity study is underway. Stamper did not provide a timeline for the study, which will determine whether the SWARC needs to make an added effort to include minority- and women-owned businesses in the MD sports betting industry.
“[It] only took six months for that engagement to get off the ground, but I’m confident it will be worthwhile,” SWARC Chairman Thomas Brandt said. “This was an informative time today. As we await the results of the disparity study, the focus will be on education and drafting of applications without presuming the outcome of the study.”
The SWARC is tasked with developing the guidelines for the competitive licenses in Maryland, including up to 30 retail and 60 mobile licenses. A top MD regulator told LSR it will be at least late 2022 before mobile sports betting launches. Voters approved legal sports betting in Maryland in November 2020.
Maryland retail sports betting update
There are five retail sportsbooks open in Maryland. Those five took $25.5 million in bets during January.
The SWARC approved Bingo World for a retail license, one of the 17 establishments named in MD sports betting legislation. Bingo World joins three other retail sportsbooks working through final approvals with the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.
Another three licenses are submitted and under MLGCA review, according to MLGCA COO Jim Nielsen.
Maryland sports betting survey responses
Taft Stettinius & Hollister Attorney Kimberly Copp said the law firm received 11 responses to the informational survey it released in January. The survey was sent to 39 US sports betting companies and posted online.
The responses came from:
- Four “significant, publicly traded” operators
- Three “mid-size” operators
- Four “new entrants or startups”
Taft will publish the results on the SWARC website. Copp also said there will be an in-person educational event in late April or early May.
MD survey takeaways
Copp said all respondents believe the market should dictate whether it needs all 60 mobile licenses provided in the legislation.
Several respondents believe existing businesses in Maryland should receive priority.
Minority, female support in sports betting
Copp said the publicly traded operators understand the efforts to include minority- and women-owned companies but do not know the full breakdown of their ownership. Instead, they suggested other measures to ensure equity and inclusion in the industry.
The smaller respondents included female and minority ownership groups, according to Copp. They said lack of access to capital and regulatory restrictions were the top barriers to entry.
“We understand some of the requirements are a bit onerous,” Nielsen told the SWARC. “We are working with them. There is flexibility.”