More than two years after Maryland voters approved sports betting, mobile sports betting is finally in sight.
The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission awarded 10 mobile sports betting licenses Wednesday. Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency Director John Martin then told the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission Thursday that the plan is to launch up to seven of those operators on Nov. 23.
The MLGCA has worked to expedite the launch process and will continue to do so following the SWARC’s action.
“Our staff has been in continuous contact with these mobile sports wagering businesses, and has already guided them through many of the necessary steps,” MLGCA Director John Martin said in a release prior to the SWARC meeting. “The last hurdle is for them to have controlled demonstrations, and SWARC’s awards of licenses on Wednesday would clear the way for that to happen.”
Maryland mobile sports betting operators
SWARC Chairman Tom Brandt knew the pressure would rest on the commission’s shoulders once the MLGCC approved the alternative qualifications. That helps explain why the SWARC moved its meeting up several days from its original November date.
The applicants, and corresponding sportsbook operators, are the following:
- Bingo World (BetRivers)
- BetMGM Maryland Sports (BetMGM)
- Crown Maryland Gaming (DraftKings)
- CZR Maryland Mobile Opportunity (Caesars)
- Greenmount Station (Parx Interactive)
- Live Casino! and Hotel (FanDuel)
- Long Shot’s (Betfred)
- Maryland Stadium Sub (Fanatics Sportsbook)
- Penn Maryland OSB/Hollywood Casino (Barstool Sportsbook)
- Riverboat on the Potomac (PointsBet)
At Thursday’s MLGCC meeting, Martin said three operators said they would not be ready to meet the pre-Thanksgiving launch goal: Long Shot’s, Maryland Stadium Sub and Greenmount Station.
Slow Maryland process coming to a close
Maryland residents voted in favor of sports betting in November 2020, with lawmakers setting up the framework in spring 2021. The legislatively-created SWARC then slogged through developing the applications and regulations for the competitive licenses in the state, including for up to 60 mobile operators.
Gov. Larry Hogan expressed displeasure with the SWARC several times throughout the two years. Along with the regulatory duties, the SWARC was also tasked with ensuring minority- and women-owned businesses are involved the sports betting industry.
Following a year of meetings, as well as an additional disparity study, the SWARC determined it could not use race- or gender-conscious requirements to award licenses. Following that decision, the commission opened the application period for competitive licenses.
More mobile Maryland operators coming
The 10 licenses awarded Wednesday were to entities among the 17 entities named in MD sports betting legislation. They are already licensed for retail sports betting in the state, which helped speed up the process with the MLGCA.
During a 45-day application period that ended on Oct. 21, the SWARC received 21 mobile license applications, as well as six Class B retail license applications.
The remaining 11 operators will receive MLGCA qualification hearings on a rolling basis, followed by SWARC license award meetings.
Maryland sports betting market grows
The first retail sportsbooks opened in Maryland in December 2021. The eight retail sportsbooks operating in October took $39.7 million in bets, holding 12.6% for $5.3 million in sports betting revenue.
Since the launch last year, the retail sportsbooks have taken nearly $280 million in wagers.
A Thanksgiving launch for mobile Maryland sports betting means online sportsbooks will capture the last full month of regular season NFL betting action, along with the full playoffs.