The Maryland Register released the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission’s proposed regulations, starting the clock to a full mobile launch in 2023. Nothing in the official publication deviated from the regulations discussed earlier but now the public can weigh in.
Marylanders have 30 days (until Sept. 26) to send in comments, or they can attend the Sept. 9 public meeting at the Montgomery Park Business Center in Baltimore.
Meanwhile, with the long-awaited disparity study yielding few requirements for action, Maryland sports betting is poised for a launch later this fall.
Maryland law delays disparity study
In their release, SWARC forecasts a revenue boost of $15-$25 million once mobile betting debuts. Moreover, the commission expects the industry to have “a meaningful economic impact on small businesses.” Maryland’s betting law placed special emphasis on minority- and women-owned businesses, which has caused a tremendous delay while the state waited on a disparity study.
The study was meant to look at the betting landscape for minority and women-owned businesses and to recommend policies to even the playing field.
The only mention in the regulations, besides a good-faith effort by applicants to interview or consider minority and women investors, is that some fees will go into a new “Small, Minority-Owned, and Women-Owned Business Sports Wagering Assistance Fund.”
During a subsequent meeting on Sept. 9, the SWARC made the decision to officially require interested sportsbook applicants to submit an approved diversity plan with their application in order to be awarded a license.
Leaked Letter to AELR
Thomas Brandt, chairman of SWARC, in an apparent letter to the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR), told members that they are “not able to apply any race- and/or gender-conscious criteria in its evaluation of applicants.”
In his letter, Brandt noted how there was a real chance “that race- and/or gender-conscious criteria may not be used in evaluating applicants.” With that in mind the committee decided to use a personal net worth provision to assist small businesses obtain the less expensive Class B license.
This means that these applicants must show that 5% of their ownership comprises of people with a net worth of less than $1.85 million.
The actual opinion comes from an economist with the Maryland Department of Transportation, who, after looking at a previously published disparity report, could not “support any other type of race- and/or gender-conscious remedy in the [Sports Wagering and Event Wagering] Industry in Maryland.”
He did see Maryland’s Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program as a helpful resource in the betting space.
Brandt then asked AELR to move promptly to approve their emergency regulations so SWARC can open the application window ASAP. He explained that “unless we move quickly, Marylanders will miss access to mobile wagering on the 2022 football season, and the state will miss out on the related revenue.”