Mobile sports betting in Maryland is finally set to move forward following months of delays and scathing criticism from Governor Larry Hogan after the State’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) approved draft applications and regulations.
Important Step Forward
During its monthly July meeting, SWARC unanimously approved not only the proposed online sports betting applications and regulations but also the draft regulations for sports betting licensing for retail facilities. Under Maryland’s law, SWARC is authorized to award up to 60 mobile betting licenses and up to 30 Class B facility licenses.
Following the approval, the commission will now send the draft applications and regulations to the state’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review and the committee is expected to issue an “emergency approval.” Once getting the committee’s approval, the process enters into a 30-day period of public consultations during which interested parties and stakeholders will be able to submit comments.
As soon as the regulations become effective and the industry analysis is complete, the commission can set a formal application date for operators and eventually come up with a timeline for any additional action that may be needed.
NFL Season Launch Date Unlikely
Besides the $500,000 application fee, there were no other details on the licensing terms and any annual fees in the draft regulations as SWARC will determine these at a later stage.
Set to meet again in August, SWARC will hardly be capable of launching sports betting in Maryland on time for the start of the new NFL season on September 8 as recommended by Governor Hogan recently.
Frustrated with the delays and lack of real progress, Governor Hogan sent a letter to SWARC to speed up the process and keep Maryland in line to benefit from the potential windfall, suggesting that the commission should speed up the process and come up with live mobile sports betting ahead of the new season in the NFL.
Maryland legalized sports betting in May 2021 and by December last year, the state had its retail sportsbooks operational but is still to see mobile sportsbooks go live after several delays to the process by SWARC. The nine-member commission created by the state legislature as an independent body delayed the process several times already and in November last year, Governor Hogan vented his frustration at SWARC, implying that the commission was subjected to pressure to delay as much as possible until one of the major players is ready to launch in the state.