Mobile Sports Betting Launch in Maryland Could Happen This Year After Regulatory Tweak

Members of the Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission heard Thursday they could make online sports betting available sooner if they continue to issue licenses.

Last updated: September 22, 2022 11:55 am ET
Reading time: 3 minutes

The launch of online sports betting in Maryland could come before the end of 2022 after regulators decided to roll out licenses on an ongoing basis rather than waiting for a full roster of candidates or a universal launch date.

Members of the Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission heard Thursday that if they did, they could make online sports betting available sooner in the state.

Up to 60 mobile betting licenses are available in Maryland, but if regulators receive fewer than 60 applications for those permits by the Oct. 21 application deadline, SWARC could simply start awarding some to qualified applicants, commissioners have been told.

“Since we as SWARC are making the award, it has to go back [Maryland Lottery and Gaming] For licensing, which involves a significant amount of work, I would suggest that it makes the most sense to proceed on an ongoing basis,” Commissioner Randy Marriner said during Thursday’s meeting.

Keep rolling, rolling, rolling, rolling (what?)

SWARC members approved an application to do so on Thursday, meaning the Commission may issue permits for online betting if applications and recommendations for licensing are presented to the group.

Applications to SWARC are due by October 21st. But nowif the number of mobile sports betting applications falls below 60 by that time, the Commission could issue key approvals to operators in a month or two with possible licensing.

The decision could ensure the launch of online sports betting in Maryland before the end of 2022 to the relief of bettors and regulators. Regulatory officials are also apparently opposed to a universal start date for online sports betting, amid concerns that one applicant could hold up the process for everyone else.

“I’m still extremely optimistic that we’ll have mobile betting somewhere in the state of Maryland before the end of the calendar year,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin said Thursday during an agency meeting.

Maryland’s sports betting law allows for up to 47 brick-and-mortar sports betting licenses in the state (30 of which are subject to a competitive application process) and 60 for online sports betting sites and apps. But while retail betting has been happening since last December, the launch date for mobile betting – which typically accounts for the bulk of settlement in states where it’s available – has been a moving target for regulators.

Time flies

The gradual introduction of online sports betting in Maryland has angered bettors and even the state governor, who has been urging regulators to get mobile betting operational in time for the National Football League season.

But Thursday’s news could accelerate the process that will bring legal online sports betting to Maryland, where seven brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are already open.

SWARC already opened its 45-day application window for mobile sports betting licenses on September 6th. According to a press release, after the Oct. 21 window closes, the commission may need up to 45 additional days to review applications. This is because gambling regulators are required to conduct background checks to ensure applicants are qualified, which is a requirement for licensing.

SWARC members also heard Thursday that the proposed regulations are subject to public comment until next Monday. However, a legislative committee has already approved the Commission’s request for emergency adoption of the regulations, which are now in place until March.

“Maryland Lottery and Gaming has been hard at work on background investigations,” Martin said in the Sept. 6 release. “A number of companies planning to apply for mobile licenses have already submitted information to begin their investigations and our licensing staff will continue to guide them through the qualification process. We are focused on expediting our part of the process so mobile betting can start as soon as possible.”

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