Maryland’s online sports betting market got off to a hot start after a two-year wait. As part of the licensing process, operators had to submit diversity plans to Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission.
Commissioners reviewed the submissions at a public meeting on Jan. 18.
Diversity plan requirement for online operators is unique to Maryland
Maryland online sports betting launched this past November with seven initial sportsbook operators. Three other sportsbooks also received licenses, though they opted to delay launch.
Last week, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) met to discuss the diversity plans of those 10 companies awarded online sports betting licenses. Licensees were urged to forge diverse ownership groups and generate proposed timelines in order to reach diversity objectives.
These supplemental reports are a requirement for sportsbooks to maintain a Maryland license. It’s a stipulation unique to The Old Line State.
A major reason online sports betting was delayed in Maryland is that the commission was waiting on the conclusion of an initial diversity study in the state. The requirement for each operator to submit a diversity plan was born from that. License-seekers also are required to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with SWARC that compels them to act in “good faith” when interviewing minority and women investors in future capital-raising efforts.
Sportsbooks submitted plans within 30 days of receiving license
At the meeting, SWARC Chairman Tom Brandt said all initial mobile licensees submitted their diversity plans within the allotted 30 days after being awarded a license.
Each licensee agreed to the following terms stipulated in the application addendum:
- The applicant affirms that it will make a good-faith effort to meet the diversity objectives outlined in its diversity plan. Also, any changes made to the plan must be approved by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC).
- The applicant agrees to report diversity metrics to the extent available in the form and frequency required by the MLGCC and to provide any other information the commission deems appropriate, including ownership, investment, management, employment, and also contracting opportunities by diverse participants in groups.
- The applicant agrees that its diversity plan and the information reported above may be made available to the public.
James Butler, MLGCC chief of staff and assistant deputy director, presented each licensee’s diversity plan for discussion and approval by the commission.
Sportsbooks identify diversity goals in plans
Below is a list of the 10 operators and a recap of the diversity plans each submitted for approval:
Bingo World (BetRivers)
Licensed bingo hall located in Brooklyn, NY. The sportsbook became operational on March 23, 2022, with its operator, BetRivers. Bingo World reports that over 50% of its management team and over 60% of its employees are minorities. In 2021, it approved a minority investor who also serves as a sports wagering business consultant for the licensee.
Maryland Sports LLG (BetMGM)
This licensee is not a traditional brick-and-mortar location. It affiliates with MGM National Harbor, a casino in Oxon Hill. The sportsbook went operational on March 23, 2022. The licensee has two minority investors who bought an equity share in BetMGM Maryland Sports and is a partner with the Tom Joyner Foundation to ensure greater visibility in opportunities for employment with the licensee through an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) collaboration.
Crown MD Online Gaming LLC (DraftKings)
This licensee also does not have a physical location. The licensee and operator are all rolled into one under this sportsbook brand which went live on Nov. 23, 2022. According to the licensee, 26.3% of its employees identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color, while 24% identify as females. In addition, the licensee identified two minority investors who purchased an equity interest in Crown Maryland Online Gaming LLC.
CZR Maryland Mobile Opportunity LLC (Caesars Sportsbook)
The licensee and the operator are part of the Caesar Entertainment portfolio of companies and affiliates with Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, a casino in downtown Baltimore. Both licensee and operator belong to the Caesars sportsbook, which became operational on Nov. 23, 2022. A Black female investor with an equity interest in the licensee was also approved by CZR. The licensee has made diversity, equity and inclusion commitments. It’s goal, by 2025, is to have 50% of its leadership held by women and 50% held by people of color.
Greenmount OTB LLC (betPARX)
This licensee is an off-track betting facility with a barn and restaurant located in Hampstead. Although this mobile sportsbook is not yet operational, this licensee partners with operator Parks Interactive Maryland. Greenmount’s diversity plan has operator goals and objectives interwoven with its operator.
Long Shot’s LLC (Betfred)
Another off-track betting facility with a bar and restaurant located in Frederick County. This mobile sportsbook is not yet running but partners with operator Betfred. The licensee is a state of Maryland certified woman-owned business. It plans to purchase two more land-based sports betting facilities in the western part of the state. One will be in Frederick, the other in Hagerstown.
Maryland Stadium Sub LLC (FedEx Field/Fanatics Sportsbook)
This licensee is without a brick-and-mortar location but affiliates with the Washington Commanders football team in Landover. Although this mobile sportsbook is not yet operational, it partners with operator Fanatics. The licensee has also partnered with a Maryland-based minority-owned business enterprise (MBE) with gaming experience as an advisor and consultant to its facility and mobile sportsbook. As part of its diversity commitment, the licensee, through its Washington Commanders partnership, reports that it has built one of the most diverse and seasoned executive leadership teams. It hired the first Black team president in NFL history, the third Latino head coach in NFL history and the sixth Black general manager in NFL history. It also employs the first female, full-time, Black assistant coach in the league.
PENN Maryland OSB LLC (Barstool Sportsbook)
The licensee doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location but affiliates with Hollywood Casino Perryville, a casino in Perryville. As with most of these sportsbooks, the licensing and operator are one package under the Barstool Sportsbook brand which went live on Nov. 23, 2022. The licensee approved a female minority investor that is a certified MBE, disadvantaged business enterprise and small business enterprise in Maryland. The investor will receive an indirect ownership interest in Penn Maryland OSB LLC. The licensee also partnered with Bowie State University in establishing a stem scholarship program. It has also increased women in leadership positions throughout the company. Females make up 35% of the corporate senior management team, and there’s 37.5% women on the executive team.
PPE Maryland Mobile LLC, Live! Casino & Hotel (FanDuel)
This licensee doesn’t have a retail location but affiliates with Live! Casino and Hotel, a casino in Hanover. The licensee operates its mobile sportsbook under the FanDuel brand which became operational on Nov. 23, 2022. PPE Maryland Mobile put together a mobile sports betting equity purchase plan in which management-level employees at Quartus Gaming and Live! properties can invest in the licensee. The licensee reports that 55 women and minorities now own 5.59% of the licensee.
Riverboat on the Potomac LLC (PointsBet)
This licensee is a licensed off-track betting facility with a barn and restaurant located in Colonial Beach, VA. The licensee’s mobile sportsbook became operational on Nov. 23, 2022 with its operator, PointsBet. The licensee also has a similar business relationship with its facility sportsbook license. One hundred percent of the licensee ownership team is minorities and also minority business enterprises.
Full diversity plans available for review by public
The general public can review these diversity plans by visiting the SWARC website.
Butler told the commission that SWARC has already received the next round of diversity plans from Bally’s, Wynn and Long Shot’s Hagerstown. The commission will review those at a Feb. 15 meeting.
Additionally, Chairman Brandt advised the commission that MLGCC and US Works Consultants were reviewing nine new mobile sports betting license applications and also five Class B sports wagering facility licensing applications. Staff will advise as the MLGCC acts on these applicants’ qualifications after which they’ll go to SWARC for consideration.
The commission will next meet virtually at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15.