Maryland Regulators Take Crucial Step For Online Sports Betting Launch

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Maryland sports betting

The relatively sudden rush to online Maryland sports betting continued Thursday with 10 sportsbooks receiving streamlined consideration.

In a lengthy meeting Thursday, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission applied alternative licensing standards to 10 online MD sports betting licenses. Those 10 head to the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission, which could award the licenses at its next meeting on Nov. 21.

“We are pleased that we advanced the process today, but of course the work continues,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin said in a release. “There is still a flurry of activity ahead of us over the next couple of weeks, but we’re going to see the first mobile wagers placed in Maryland soon.”

An approval in November could set the online sportsbooks up for launch in December. Regulators were taking an extremely sluggish route to online sports betting before a rapid push began at the end of August. Maryland voters approved sports betting in November 2020 and retail sportsbooks opened in December 2021.

Which online Maryland sportsbooks moved forward?

The MLGCC moved 10 mobile sportsbook licenses forward using alternative licensing standards, largely meaning the operators already hold a retail sports betting license in Maryland or are active in three legal jurisdictions. The commission used a similar tactic to get retail sports betting off the ground last year.

The licensees also have corresponding sportsbook operator licenses that do not have to go before the SWARC. The licenses approved Thursday include:

There are up to 60 online licenses available in Maryland. The application deadline closed Oct. 21, and the MLGCC was told an update on applicants would be shared soon.

Pressure back on Maryland SWARC

The SWARC holds much of the responsibility for the lengthy process to launch online sports betting in Maryland. The legislatively created body was responsible for developing the competitive licensing standards, as well as ensuring minority and women-owned inclusion in the industry.

Gov. Larry Hogan applied pressure on the SWARC this summer. Following multiple meetings and an additional disparity study, the SWARC determined it could not use race- or gender-conscious requirements to award licenses.

In August, the commission sent its regulations to a legislative review commission and opened a 30-day comment period, as well as the application period.

“All eyes will be upon us to get online sports wagering started in the state of Maryland and we become the gating step in the process,” SWARC Chairman Tom Brandt said at its last meeting. “I would keep the November date for [commissioners and consultants] to thoroughly do their jobs.”

Retail sports betting license qualified too

Long Shot’s Hagerstown received approval for a Class B retail license. There are 30 competitive retail licenses available in Maryland.

Long Shot’s Hagerstown shares ownership with Long Shot’s in Frederick, one of 17 entities named in legislation for a license.

Retail sportsbooks took $31.4 million in bets during September, generating $6.6 million in sports betting revenue.