Could Online Maryland Sports Betting Finally Move Forward This Week?

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Maryland sports betting

Online Maryland sports betting could take a significant step forward this week after long stretches of inaction.

The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission posted draft applications and regulations on its website Monday. The SWARC will meet Wednesday to discuss and vote on the MD sports betting drafts.

The SWARC is responsible for setting up the regulations for competitive licenses in Maryland, including 30 retail establishments and up to 60 online operators. Retail sports betting started in December, with five of the 17 establishments named in MD sports betting legislation open.

Heat is on for Maryland sports betting

Last month, Gov. Larry Hogan applied pressure on the SWARC as the committee has met since August 2021 without any significant progress toward the competitive licenses. Hogan wants online sports betting to launch by Sept. 8 in time for NFL betting.

That timeline is a little tight, as the SWARC approval then sends the drafts to a legislative review commission and a 30-day public review period. The Maryland Register also needs to publish the final regulations.

SWARC Chairman Thomas Brandt said at the last meeting he hopes applications can start rolling in by late summer. The due dates on the draft applications were left blank.

Hogan’s ask for SWARC

Hogan asked for the commission to set a date for launch. Through two meetings since Hogan’s letter, the SWARC has essentially ignored the governor’s requests.

Hogan also asked the SWARC to prioritize mobile licensing for the 17 establishments named for retail licenses in MD sports betting legislation. After that, the commission could concentrate on diversity and inclusion efforts, Hogan said.

The 17 named locations include casinos partnered with national sportsbook brands. The establishments also include minority- and women-owned businesses.

Competitive Maryland license process

Potential licensees have access to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency eLicensing portal. The portal is used to submit information for the MLGCA to perform necessary background checks.

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission must qualify an operator before the SWARC can award a license. Once awarded a license, the MLGCA runs final technical approvals before a launch.

The sportsbook can operate once the MLGCC issues the license following final approvals.

Maryland diversity efforts

The Maryland sports betting legislation dictates that SWARC ensure diversity inclusion in the industry. A disparity study to determine if extra efforts are needed remains in progress.

In the draft regulations, the SWARC requires applicants to make a good-faith effort to solicit and interview “a reasonable number of minority and women investors.”

Maryland retail betting moving along

Retail sports betting in Maryland started in December 2021. There are five retail sportsbooks open, with more coming in the near future.

The MLGCA released its June report Monday. The sportsbooks took $19.1 million in bets during the month, generating taxable revenue of $1.3 million.

The FanDuel Sportsbook at Live! Casino led the way with $8.4 million in wagers.