Online sports betting is on its way in Maryland, but how long will it take to officially arrive?
Recent announcements, plus analysis of fellow online sports betting states, suggest launch might come sooner than we first thought.
Maryland online sports betting nears launch
Technically, Maryland sports betting launched Dec. 2021 when retail wagering made its debut. So why has the state taken so long to launch MD sportsbooks online?
This happens to be a question with a multi-faceted answer.
In general, it has a lot to do with how quickly the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission can move through its application review process. But it also depends on how many companies ultimately apply and how quickly sports betting regulations are agreed upon.
Although Maryland has yet to set a launch date, sports betting’s evolution in other states could help us understand when online wagering might become a reality in the Old Line State.
The current status of MD online sports betting
Sports betting was legalized in Maryland in May 2021. Seven months later, retail sports betting went live.
Mobile sports betting in the Old Line State is currently making its way through the operator application phase. Companies that want to operate in the state are applying for licenses. Those companies include operators, vendors and others involved in the industry.
Once an application comes in, SWARC has 45 days to review it. Maryland Lottery and Gaming must also approve the application. So in an ideal world, it would take the two organizations no more than 45 days to approve an applicant.
Typically, states choose to either batch their approvals or approve them on a rolling basis. Initially, Maryland chose the former approach. However, at a recent SWARC meeting, a commission pointed out that batching the applications could pose a problem if most applications are received closer to the application deadline on Oct. 21.
Thus, the commission decided to approve applicants on a rolling basis. Basically, rather than waiting for a certain number of applications to come through, they can review and approve them after Oct. 27 as they see fit.
In theory, this decision allows SWARC to move through applications quicker. So quick in fact that the state could launch mobile sports betting as soon as November or December.
Launch timelines of other states
Several of the states that adopted sports betting after the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act launched within months of legalizing sports betting. Some examples include:
- New Jersey: The first mobile bet was taken in August 2018, just two months after Gov. Phil Murphy signed off on legalized sports betting.
- Indiana: Launched in August 2019, just three months after legalization.
- Iowa: Sports betting was legalized in May 2019 and launched in August 2019.
- Michigan: Legalized sports betting in December 2019 and launched in March 2020.
However, states that legalized sports betting in the past year have often launched slower than states did in the year after PASPA was repealed.
- Ohio: Started accepting applications in June and is set to launch in January.
- Massachusetts: Accepted formal notices of intent through August 2022. Has yet to formally accept applications for licenses, and may not launch mobile sports betting until early 2023.
- Maine: Sports betting was legalized in May, but top gaming regulator Milton Champion anticipates it could take up to two years for mobile sports wagering to launch.
How does Maryland compare to other states?
Maryland boasts a few advantages compared to Ohio, Massachusetts and Maine. First, the state already has retail sports betting. So, it’s familiar with the licensing application process. Second, SWARC is looking for ways to make the application process faster.
These two factors are good indicators that mobile sports betting will go live soon. A November or December launch is the expected time frame among industry analysts.