Top Regulator Says Maryland Online Sports Betting Could Launch This Year

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Maryland sports betting launch

The top Maryland gaming regulator is optimistic at least a few online sports betting apps will launch before the new year.

Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency Director John Martin told LSR this week that there should be multiple online Maryland sportsbooks operational for Super Bowl betting, if not before. Last week, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission released applications for operators looking to secure one of 60 online or 30 retail licenses up for competitive bid.

“I’m optimistic today that we can get someone up and running before the end of the calendar year, if not more,” Martin said. “There will be some carryover, sure, that’s what we’ve seen with brick and mortar. Some take longer than others but that’s not because we’re not working on it.

“I think we’ll get some up and running, then more before the Super Bowl, then more before March Madness.”

Maryland retail sports betting launched in December 2021.

Working in parallel for Maryland sports betting

The SWARC has worked since last August to put together applications and regulations for the competitive licenses. The commission is also required to determine how best to ensure an equitable and inclusive industry, which has lengthened the process.

Voters first approved Maryland sports betting in November 2020. Recognizing unrest among his constituents, Gov. Larry Hogan applied pressure on the SWARC earlier this summer to move the process along.

Now with the applications released, Martin said the MLGCA and SWARC are working in parallel to award the competitive licenses and launch operators as quickly as possible. Applications are due Oct. 21.

Maryland regulators working behind the scenes

Once the SWARC receives the applications, it has 45 days to review them. There is also a public comment period for regulations that ends Sept. 26, but Martin does not project any substantive changes that would delay the process.

As the applicants are working on their submissions, multiple have already submitted financials for background checks by the MLGCA. Like the five retail sportsbooks that opened in December 2021, Martin believes some mobile operators are on a faster track than others.

“These are not dependent events as maybe some feared,” Martin said. “We’re optimistic we can get some through the process before the 45 days (SWARC has to review).”

Independent Maryland sports betting licenses

Online licenses will not be tied to existing partnerships with entities named in MD sports betting legislation, Martin said.

“These relationships don’t necessarily carry over,” he said. “You’re not tethered to the partners, but some are doing that initially. You shouldn’t just assume because two partners are partnered in retail that they are in mobile.”

Major online brands with a retail presence in Maryland are:

TwinSpires, which recently announced it is shutting down online sports betting, runs the Ocean Downs Casino retail sportsbook. Fanatics plans a sportsbook at FedEx Field while Superbook recently partnered with the Baltimore Orioles.

Maryland retail sports betting drags in summer

The seven retail sportsbooks open in August took $18.7 million in bets, generating $3.2 million in sports betting revenue on a 17.1% hold.

Since the December launch, Maryland bettors have wagered nearly $209 million. Sportsbooks have held 11.9% for $24.9 million in revenue.

The state has collected $3.7 million in taxes.