Maryland Online Sports Betting to Begin in Late November or Early December
Posted on: October 20, 2022, 09:55h.
Last updated on: October 20, 2022, 12:25h.
Maryland online sports betting is at long last nearing launch.
Two years after Marylanders voted to amend the state constitution to permit sports gambling — and nearly a year after in-person sports betting began at five of the state’s six commercial casinos — state gaming regulators say they’re finally ready to issue mobile sportsbook licenses.
During this week’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) meeting, the seven commissioners voted in favor of issuing the first batch of online sports betting permits next month. SWARC is scheduled to next meet on Nov. 21.
For this commission, the tires are about to hit the road as far as us acting on the applications,” SWARC Chair Thomas Brandt explained recently.
Brandt said he expects the commission to spend about 15-30 minutes reviewing each mobile sportsbook applicant that has been recommended for licensure by the commission’s staff. Once the licenses are issued, the commission anticipates the first online wagers being facilitated by the end of November or early December.
More than 30 states have legalized sports betting, but none passed legislation as comprehensive as Maryland.
Along with authorizing as many as 60 mobile sportsbook licenses in addition to land-based opportunities for casinos, horse racetracks, and other businesses, Maryland’s sports betting law sought to provide social equity. The gaming expansion measure required that a “disparity analysis” be completed by a third-party research firm to identify possible discrimination in the state gaming industry.
The time-consuming disparity review led to SWARC being heavily criticized for not allowing mobile sportsbooks to begin operating sooner. SWARC fired back saying the legislature was to blame for the wait.
“I understand many are frustrated that the process relating to the issuance of mobile sports wagering licenses has been time-consuming. I want everyone to know that SWARC and its support team have been operating as diligently and deliberately as we can under the Maryland sports wagering law that we’re tasked to administer,” Brandt said in June.
The following month, SWARC, with the blessing of the Maryland Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review, amended its mobile sportsbook application process. They did so to begin issuing licenses to qualified operators before the disparity analysis is completed. Instead, the operators that receive a license next month will need to submit a diversity plan to the state within 30 days.
Each operator’s diversity plan must pledge to the state that the online sportsbook “make a good faith effort” to periodically publish diversity metrics and continually strive to increase minority inclusion in the business’s operations.
Plenty of Licensees to Go Around
SWARC has as many as 60 mobile sports betting licenses to grant. But the commission says the early application period didn’t turn up anywhere near that number of applicants. The commission said only 10 entities have submitted applications for internet sports betting privileges.
In what is another effort to expedite sports gambling online, SWARC will issue mobile permits on a rolling basis. Previously, the state had planned to issue all online sportsbook concessions simultaneously.
The mobile books are where the bulk of the Maryland sports bets will be wagered once operational. In September, Maryland’s brick-and-mortar sportsbooks took just $31.3 million in bets, but kept more than $6.5 million on an impressive 21% hold.
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