Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) approved proposed online sports betting regulations and applications on Wednesday. It did so during its monthly meeting for July.
In addition to the regulations and applications for mobile, SWARC also approved the same for competitive retail facility sports betting licenses. Both were done so unanimously.
“It’s been a slog to get here,” SWARC chairman Thomas Brandt said during Wednesday’s meeting.
The drafts of regulations and applications have been posted to the SWARC and Maryland Lottery Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) websites.
For the latest on mobile sports betting in the Old Line State, be sure to check out PlayMaryland‘s Live Updates page.
What the licensing process will look like in Maryland
First, a clarification on the Maryland mobile sports betting application process for both mobile and Class B licenses. Before a license can be awarded to an interested party, it must first apply and be approved, separately, through both the SWARC and the MLGCC.
The information taken from the SWARC application will be used to determine if one should be granted a license. The MLGCC component, however, dives into the background of an applicant, allowing for proper vetting. Both are required before SWARC can award any licenses.
After Wednesday’s developments, it’s expected that the SWARC application should be published at some point this summer. The background application, however, is already available on the MLGCC’s website for those interested.
The MLGCC also opened up its eLicensing platform in late June to all businesses and individuals interested in a Class B or mobile license. Here, applicants will be able to submit information and the necessary documents to get the process underway.
However, any given investigation could take multiple months; getting started on the MLGCC’s end could help push the process along.
SWARC is authorized to award up to 30 Class B facility licenses and up to 60 mobile licenses.
These licenses will be subject to a competitive bidding process. The SWARC is tasked with establishing this process and the criteria with which it will award licenses. After awarding the selected businesses, SWARC’s role in the process ceases.
From there, it’s up to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to thoroughly vet all the licenses. If all checks out during this process, a license will be issued. The MLGAC is also responsible for regulating day-to-day operations at an entity.
What changed in regulations, applications?
Aside from stylistic/formatting changes, there were a few adjustments made to the proposed regulations and applications since the last meeting. According to MLGCC’s Jim Nielsen, those are:
- Inclusion of definition of personal net worth.
- Changed requirement for submission of application to the e-licensing portal for the lottery background investigation from 30 days to 14.
- Added another definition for full-time equivalent employees. This number is needed to determine whether a facility applicant is going for a Class B-1 or Class B-2 license.
- Added a requirement that applicants need to provide information about disciplinary actions and fines they may have received in other jurisdictions.
- Added the equity ownership requirement of 5%.
To clarify further on the first point above, each new Class-B facility license applicant must demonstrate that at least 5% of its direct or indirect ownership is by individuals with a maximum personal net worth of $1.8 million. According to Chairman Brandt, this amount is “commensurate with the complex sports wagering compliance requirements to go with managing large amounts of cash.”
On the second point, the timeline for submission was previously 30 days. However, Nielsen said that, after review, it was determined that two weeks would suffice without causing further delays.
While the regulations and applications were approved, changes could still come.
As has been the case since the beginning of 2022, officials and bettors in Maryland alike are awaiting the completion of a state-run disparity survey. This study is meant to show potential hurdles for minority- or women-owned businesses from getting into sports betting.
“When that process is completed and we have considered that input, there may be changes to the regulations and applications,” Brandt said during Wednesday’s meeting.
With the proposed regulations and applications approved, SWARC will now submit them to the Maryland Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review for “emergency approval.” Once approved there, a 30-day public comment period will then begin.
After the regulations have become effective and the industry analysis has been completed, SWARC can then determine a date for when formal applications and fees can be submitted. From there, the group can then work on a potential timeline for additional actions, ending with mobile sports betting finally making its way to Maryland.
SWARC is scheduled to next meet on August 17. However, there’s always the chance it adds an emergency meeting before then.
While this is a positive step in the right direction, there is still much to do before mobile sports betting is available in the Old Line State. Governor Larry Hogan’s recent plea to get things operating by the beginning of the NFL season (Sept. 8) seems unlikely.