Maryland took a real step towards expanding sports betting on Tuesday. The state’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) opened its application portal for Class B and Mobile sportsbook licenses in Maryland.
There is now real momentum for sports bets to be placed in Maryland before the end of the year, or maybe more toward the Feb. 12 Super Bowl.
Maryland mobile sports betting inches closer to launch
Although the path to mobile Maryland sports betting has been a lengthy one, regulators are aware of how important a quick launch is to the state.
Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin noted:
“We know sports fans are eager to have mobile wagering, and we also know that it will substantially increase the contributions to education funding, so we’re eager too.”
Sportsbooks are taxed at a rate of 15% in Maryland. And that money, in turn, finances early childhood education and public schools statewide via the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund. In the nine months since retail betting’s launch, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund has already received $3.1 million.
Maryland makes 90 licenses available; 60 for online
Maryland celebrated a limited debut of retail sports betting this past December, granting license approval to 17 preselected locations such as casinos, racetracks and fairgrounds. As of today, only four retail sportsbooks are up and running in the state:
- BetMGM Sportsbook & Lounge at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill
- FanDuel Sportsbook at Live! Casino & Hotel in Arundel Mills
- Caesars Sportsbook at Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore
- The Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino Perryville
With Tuesday’s announcement, 60 Mobile licenses and an additional 30 Class B licenses are now available. Class B licenses are those reserved for retail locations that want to launch in-person sports betting. Maryland then divides those operators (and charges them) based on size; those with more than 25 employees or $3 million in “gross receipts,” and those with less.
Operators awarded a Class B license will also be granted a 1.5-mile exclusion zone, preventing other brick-and-mortar stores from opening in close proximity.
Sportsbook applicants have 45-day window
Sportsbook operators interested in applying will have until Oct. 21 to submit applicable materials and pay the non-refundable application fee.
Once the deadline passes, the SWARC will have another 45 days to review each application. Meanwhile, Maryland Lottery and Gaming will be investigating each applicant to ensure that all appropriate sports betting license qualifications are met.
This means that the application review process could theoretically be complete by early December. The only thing left for the SWARC to do after that is give each applicant the thumbs up for launch.
The official launch could then either be scheduled to take place on a particular date or staggered based on when each sportsbook is cleared for takeoff.
Maryland wants quick online sports betting launch too
The total number of applications will affect the timeline for a formal launch in expanded sports betting. Director Martin, however, remains optimistic that betting will start in 2022.
“We’ve been doing everything we can to have it launch before the end of the year, and now we have a good chance to make that happen.”
In an effort to expedite the process, the commission made applications available to interested operators ahead of the application window officially opening. Applications were made public on June 17 in the hopes that sportsbooks would gather all relevant materials and formally submit their applications much earlier than the Oct. 21 deadline.
It appears that several operators heeded that advice with Martin adding that:
“A number of businesses that are planning to apply for mobile licenses have already submitted information to get their investigations started, and our Licensing staff will continue guiding them through the qualification procedures.”