How Close Is Online Maryland Sports Betting To Launching?

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Online Maryland sports betting took a recent step forward, but there is still no timeline for launch.

At its meeting last week, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission advanced Maryland online sports betting draft regulations and applications. The drafts move on to a legislative review committee and a 30-day public review period.

The SWARC has met monthly since August 2021 and has held up the mobile sports betting launch mainly under the guise of working toward making the industry inclusive. However, the regulations and application drafts advance without race and gender criteria.

“Over the past year, we’ve heard extensive legal advice regarding constraints upon us in so managing a licensing process,” SWARC Chairman Thomas Brandt said. “To avoid further delays, we’ve asked the staff and professional team to draft regulations which exclude race- and gender-based license criteria.”

Governor Hogan pressure in Maryland paying off?

Last month, Gov. Larry Hogan pressed the SWARC to get online sports betting off the ground, including setting a date for the launch. While the commission only briefly addressed the governor’s concern in a meeting, it does appear they are working more expeditiously than before.

The SWARC was waiting for a disparity study to finish to determine if extra efforts were needed to include minority- and women-owned businesses in the sports betting industry. The commission is moving forward without the study, which the SWARC expects to review next month.

Instead, each applicant must demonstrate at least a 5% ownership with a maximum net worth of $1.8 million. According to statements made during the meeting, that net worth requirement is similar to other Maryland industries.

Timeline coming for Maryland sports betting

The SWARC is responsible for setting up the regulations and criteria for the competitive licenses in the state, including up to 60 mobile licenses and 30 retail establishments. Brandt said that the SWARC could add additional criteria to the regulations and applications once the commission reviews the disparity study.

After the SWARC reviews the study and the drafts make it through the public review period, it can set a time to accept applications. Once the SWARC sets that date, it can explore additional timelines.

“A lot of effort has been made to measure twice and cut once,” Brandt said.

SWARC member Randy Marriner then said, “I think we’ve measured more than twice, Tom.” The comment generated a hearty laugh from the call.

Diversity included in Maryland designated licenses

While the SWARC will continue its work to ensure the sports betting industry is diverse, MD legislation designates licenses to several businesses that meet those qualifications. Last week, Betfred partnered with Long Shot’s, a woman-owned business.

PointsBet partnered with Riverboat on the Potomac, a minority-owned business.

In Hogan’s letter pressuring the commission, he said the SWARC should prioritize mobile licensing for the 17 establishments named for retail licenses.

Maryland sports betting slogs along

Five retail sportsbooks opened in December 2021. Several more, including Long Shot’s and Riverboat on the Potomac, are in the final approval process before launch.

Those five sportsbooks took $19.1 million in bets during June. Through seven months of sports betting, Maryland has collected $2.9 million in sports betting taxes.

Maryland voters approved sports betting in November 2020 and have waited since then for online sports betting. The SWARC canceled its July 20 meeting and will meet on August 17.