Online Maryland Sports Betting Finally Nearing Reality

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Maryland sports betting

Online Maryland sports betting applications are rolling in and a launch before the new year appears in line.

Ten applicants already submitted their information prior to Friday’s deadline, according to an update provided to the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission at its meeting Wednesday. The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission will meet Oct. 27 to push those 10 applicants ahead with alternative licensing qualifications.

The SWARC will meet Nov. 21 in hopes of giving its members and consultants enough time to review the applications of those operators. If the SWARC awards licensees at its next meeting, that should line up a December online MD sports betting launch, pending final approvals by regulators.

Expedited path for Maryland sports betting operators

Similar to how the MLGCC gave casinos alternative licensing standards prior to the retail MD sports betting launch in December 2021, they are ready to give the same priority to online sports betting licenses. The operators are established gaming entities that are familiar to the state’s regulators or licensed in multiple other jurisdictions.

Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency Director John Martin previously told LSR that a similar approach was likely. Martin also said he was confident a launch would occur before 2023.

With nearly a month between the MLGCC meeting and SWARC’s next gathering, SWARC Chairman Tom Brandt knows they are likely to become scapegoats for any additional delay. Still, he wants to give his commissioners ample time to read the applications.

“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,”Brandt said. “I would keep the November date for [commissioners and consultants] to thoroughly do their jobs.”

Long journey to online MD sports betting

Marylanders will be happy to see a launch date is finally nearing after voters approved sports betting in 2020. A legislative mandate to include minority- and women-owned businesses in the industry delayed the online launch process two years.

Gov. Larry Hogan applied pressure on the SWARC earlier this summer to hurry along the process. Regulators eventually determined they could not apply specific requirements regarding minority and women ownership to license applications.

The commission then sent its draft regulations on to a legislative review commission and opened a 30-day comment period. SWARC also opened the application period for competitive licenses, including up to 30 retail and 60 mobile operators.

Maryland regulations not all that different

MLGCA staff and SWARC consultants went through public comments on the regulations at Wednesday’s meeting. The commission adopted one non-substantive change recommended by the MLGCA staff.

SWARC consultants from Taft Law said the regulations fall in the middle of other markets they have worked with.

“The regs fall in the middle from what we’ve seen,” Taft Partner Cezar Froelich said. “Some are, frankly, easier to comply with and a handful of states are a little more difficult. The process we went through was a little more difficult for the reasons previously discussed, like the study and the like. But the regs themselves are smack-dab in the middle.”

Operators ready for launch

Earlier this month, at least two US sportsbooks began touting their Maryland future.

Caesars Sportsbook announced it submitted an application while achieving the diverse ownership goals of the MD legislators.

FanDuel Sportsbook tweeted out it was “coming soon” to Maryland. FanDuel already runs one of the largest retail sportsbooks in the US at Live! Casino in Maryland.

Maryland retail sportsbooks near full year of operation

In September, the eight retail sportsbooks in Maryland took $31.4 million in bets. The sportsbooks generated $6.6 million in sports betting revenue.

US sportsbook operators with retail presence in Maryland: