The momentum to get online Maryland sports betting off the ground grew with two regulatory meetings last week.
The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission decided it will award licenses on a rolling basis after the Oct. 21 application due date. With the action, the SWARC will set up online Maryland sportsbooks to launch when ready, rather than waiting for a universal launch date.
“The tires are about to hit the road on us actually acting on applications,” SWARC Chairman Tom Brandt said.
Last week, Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency Director John Martin told LSR he is optimistic online MD sports betting can launch before the new year. The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission also met Thursday, where Martin shared a similar sentiment with commissioners.
Timeline for online Maryland sports betting
After languishing for more than a year and receiving pressure from Gov. Larry Hogan, the SWARC released its applications for the up to 60 competitive mobile licenses this month. Maryland voters originally approved sports betting in 2020, with lawmakers passing enacting legislation in spring 2021.
The applications are due next month, and will be reviewed by consulting law firm Taft and recommended on a rolling basis to the commissioners, who can then award the licenses. Similar to how five major casino brands launched Maryland retail sportsbooks in December 2021, it is likely experienced operators will be able to work through the application review process smoothly, Martin said last week.
The SWARC will have 45 days to review the applicants, while the MLGCA will vet them at the same time. If all goes smoothly, some online sportsbooks could launch in November or December.
Maryland sports betting meetings flexible
The MLGCC also must find operators qualified before going back to SWARC where it can then issue licenses. The commission is scheduled to meet Oct. 27, but special meetings could emerge to handle additional sports betting duties.
The next SWARC meeting is scheduled for Oct. 19, but commissioners are ready for additional meetings to help move at a quicker rate. The SWARC is at least partially responsible for the glacial pace of the online sports betting timeline, as they developed the applications and regulations for the competitive licenses, while also ensuring equity and inclusion in the sports betting industry.
FanDuel ready to launch mobile sports betting in Maryland
The FanDuel Sportsbook at Live! Casino has turned into one of the largest retail sportsbooks in US sports betting. The two companies are ready to go mobile as soon as they are allowed, said Rob Norton, president at Cordish Gaming Group, which owns Live! Casino.
“We’ve been through the licensing process with the state, been through mobile licensing in other markets before and we’re very comfortable we can move as quickly as they want to move,” Norton told LSR this week. “If they’re ready, we will be. We’re not the one who drives the timeline, but we do believe from our experience that we’ll be right there at the beginning.”
Norton declined to speak on timeline specifics.
Maryland retail sportsbooks continue taking action
Of the 17 designated licensees in MD sports betting, seven have opened retail sportsbooks since December 2021. The retail sportsbooks took $18.7 million in wagers during August, holding 17.1% for $3.2 million in sports betting revenue.
Since the December 2021 launch, Maryland sportsbooks have taken nearly $209 million in wagers. With an overall 11.9% hold, the sportsbooks have made $24.9 million in revenue.
The seven open retail sportsbooks are:
- Bingo World — BetRivers
- Hollywood Casino — Barstool
- Horseshoe Casino — Caesars
- Live! Casino — FanDuel
- MGM National Harbor — BetMGM
- Ocean Downs Casino — TwinSpires
- Riverboat on the Potomac — PointsBet
More Maryland retail sportsbooks coming
Another four locations and building out sportsbooks and waiting for final MLGCA approvals:
- FedEx Field
- Greenmount Station
- Jockey Bar & Grille
- Long Shot’s
Along with the 60 mobile licenses up for competitive bid, there are 30 retail licenses available as well.