Operators Start Touting Mobile Maryland Sports Betting Future

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Maryland sports betting

After months of inaction, mobile sports betting in Maryland is quickly approaching.

Applications for mobile sports betting in Maryland are due Friday, with regulators expecting at least some operators to launch by the end of the year. FanDuel Sportsbook tweeted this week it expects to launch in Maryland “very soon.”

Caesars Sportsbook announced last week it submitted its online operator application earlier this month while surpassing minority- and women-owned goals set by legislators last year. Maryland regulators also recently released comments received during their open public comment period on mobile MD sports betting regulations.

Suddenly, a quick pace to launch

Maryland voters approved sports betting in November 2020, with legislators passing enacting legislation in May 2021. While retail sports betting opened in December 2021, the regulatory commissions hoped to include specific requirements for minority- and women-owned involvement in the sports betting industry.

This summer, Gov. Larry Hogan applied pressure on the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission to expedite the process this summer, albeit with little success. After an additional disparity study was finished in August, regulators determined they could not apply specific requirements to applicants.

As soon as SWARC made that determination, they set the pace to launch mobile sports betting by the Super Bowl. Regulators opened the application process in September.

Caesars application for Maryland sports betting

Caesars was the first operator to announce its application for one of up to 60 mobile sports betting licenses in Maryland. The operator announced ownership will include 40% diverse ownership.

“This is a true hometown application,” Caesars Digital President Eric Hession said in a release. “We’re very pleased to have structured our application in a way that not only reflects our corporate mission to promote diversity, equity and inclusion but is consistent with the spirit of Maryland sports betting legislation, which seek to create to ownership opportunities that otherwise might not exist.”

The license application, through Caesars’ ownership of Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, includes:

“Caesars’ success in bringing on significant minority ownership in their sports wagering program is tangible proof that the General Assembly’s intentional pursuit to create diversity in new markets can be successful,” Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones said in the release.

Complaints about MD sports betting regulations

This month, the SWARC released comments from its 30-day public comment period after the legislative review commission approved emergency regulations Sept. 2.

There were no major comments that will delay the process any more. Still, some expressed displeasure with the lengthy process to get mobile sports betting off the ground.

“What in god’s name is taking so long,” a commenter, Kris Sankar, wrote. “I get that you’re trying to help out the lil guy but this is a stupid battle. The major companies in mobile betting are the trusted ones. No one will use an unknown book to wager because there’s no credibility. So give the licenses out already and stop wasting time and money.”

Most substantial comment in Maryland

While most comments were unsubstantial, some were critical of the requirement that 5% of applicant ownership must have a personal net worth of less than $1.847 million. Among those critical of the requirement was bet365.

“Any limitations on what operators can participate in the industry that aren’t driven by suitability or experience considerations, run the risk of adversely impacting the tax revenue generated by the state, as well as limiting customer choice in what would otherwise be a robust and competitive industry,” bet365 Legal and Regulatory Counsel Robert Moncrief Jr. wrote.

Other commenters were confused by the lack of guidance on diversity and inclusion requirements, which until the applications were released was a significant concern.

Maryland retail sports betting climbs

Retail sportsbooks in Maryland took $31.4 million in bets during September.

The operators held 21.2% during the month for $6.6 million in sports betting revenue.

The FanDuel Sportsbook at Live! Casino led the way with $12.7 million in wagers during September.