Maryland Emergency Sports Betting Rules Ready For Their Closeup

Posted on August 30, 2021

If you’ve ever wanted to read 227 pages of emergency sports betting rules, now is your chance. Regulators in Maryland have posted their set of policies governing eventual legal sports betting in the Old Line State to the public register.

That posting immediately triggered the opening of a 30-day public comment period. It also gave a little more insight as to when sportsbooks could actually start taking bets in MD, though a firm date remains elusive.

Emergency sports betting rules under scrutiny

The regulations are available to the public, and anyone can comment on them. That will feature a meeting of the Maryland State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency on Sept. 22 at 10 a.m. in the Auditorium at the Montgomery Park Business Center in Baltimore.

The MD Register is an “official State publication published every other week throughout the year.” Its purpose is to serve as a “temporary supplement to the Code of Maryland Regulations.”

According to state law, any change to the text of state regulations, whether by adoption, amendment, repeal, or emergency action, must first be published in the Register. The Register also includes any opinions by the state’s attorney general and executive orders the governor has issued.

Other than speaking directly to the MD Lottery and Gaming Control Agency on Sept. 22, the Register specifies how interested parties may submit comments in writing. Those methods include:

  • Sending an email to [email protected]
  • Submitting a comment via postal mail to James B. Butler, Managing Director, Organizational Compliance, Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, 1800 Washington Blvd., Suite 330, Baltimore, MD 21230
  • Using the online form

The deadline for comments is Sept. 27, 2021. The Agency will not accept telephone or fax comments. It’s uncertain how quickly thereafter regulators could vote to finalize the regs. That will be the next step in the process that still has no end date.

Launch timeline still clear as mud

While the commencement of the public comment period represents progress, it doesn’t make a firm date for launching legal sportsbooks in MD any clearer. When the public comment period ends, there is no deadline for regulators to finalize the emergency rules.

Additionally, there are no timelines for when those same regulators will make license application forms available for interested parties. It’s possible both of those things could happen quickly after the comment period ends. There are simply no guarantees.

Parties in Annapolis, including Gov. Larry Hogan, have pressured regulators to do all they can to get sportsbooks live in time for the next round of NFL playoffs, at the latest. That certainly looks possible. In fact, it could happen well before the end of this year in terms of brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.

Several physical properties such as MGM National Harbor have already taken action to get their retail locations ready for the day that they get regulatory approval to start taking bets. It’s likely only a matter of time until they can do so. The question of exactly how much time still remains, but the availability of the emergency rules in the Register is an important step forward.

Photo by Dreamsite / roibul
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Derek Helling

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