State gaming regulators are tentatively targeting the week of Thanksgiving to begin approving Maryland online sports betting licenses.
Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission will hold a hybrid meeting on Nov. 21 at the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency headquarters. The seven-member board expects to consider 10 applications, according to a status update provided during Wednesday’s public meeting.
Maryland regulators recognize what’s at stake with online sports betting
The deadline for Maryland online sports betting license applications is Oct. 21, meaning the total number of applicants could increase before the upcoming November meeting.
After the deadline arrives, the MLGCA will conduct a hearing on Oct. 27, where they will begin reviewing the qualifications of applicants and determining whether statutory requirements are satisfied.
SWARC Chairman Thomas Brandt, Jr., said the time has come for the state’s regulatory framework to be tested.
“(SWARC was) created for a purpose as a commission and this is our opportunity to see how well applicants have responded to what we’ve undertaken to accomplish,” Brandt said Wednesday morning. “We are licensing people to do business for a long time in our state. Our hope is that these are viable people with good technology and the appropriate capital to be engaged in sports wagering. So, this is our chance to look at what’s come our way and be prepared to act on that.”
Maryland voters approved legal, regulated sports gambling in November 2020. Gov. Larry Hogan signed legislation in May 2021 approving in-person and online sports gambling. Land-based sportsbooks began taking legal wagers later that year.
The launch of Maryland online sports gambling has no firm date, but it appears it will be available before the end of 2022.
Launch process delay causing frustration
Maryland’s unique applicant requirements are part of the reason for the delay. Diversity conditions and an owner net-worth cap are novel to the Old Line State.
Last week, SWARC published responses submitted during an open public comment period, many of which were critical of the timeliness of the licensing process.
Brandt asked one of the agency’s gaming consultants how the state’s regulations are perceived in comparison to other states with legalized online sports betting. Cezar Froelich of Taft Stettinius & Hollister responded that Maryland’s framework was neither overly challenging nor easy.
“I think that the regs (sic), in and of themselves, are fine. I think the process we went through was a lot more difficult.”
Wednesday’s SWARC meeting suggests that Maryland online sports betting could see its first sportsbooks approved by Thanksgiving.