Maryland Online Sports Betting May Not Launch This Year

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Maryland online sports betting may not launch this year, according to the regulator’s monthly meeting this week.

Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) met Wednesday again and concluded without any update on when legal online sports betting might come to the state.

The commission is tasked with establishing guidelines for giving competitive licenses and ensuring minority- and women-owned business participation in the Maryland sports betting.

The SWARC discussed mostly a recent educational event for small businesses seeking to participate in the sports betting industry.

As the regulators fail to give the launch date, an industry source claimed that mobile wagering may not come before the 2023 Super Bowl.

A top regulator had previously told the media that Maryland online sports betting could come later this year.

What a Wasteful Wednesday!

Nothing significant happened at Wednesday’s meeting, though SWARC Chairman Thomas Brandt wanted more discussion in the meeting that did not last more than 20 minutes.

Most of the time was consumed by the educational summit. However, commissioners Frank Turner and Laura Gamble shared a few statements to ensure there was minimal discussion regarding the summit.

After the meeting concluded, nobody had any clarity regarding when would mobile sports betting launch in the Old Line State.

Wednesday’s meeting was the carbon copy of the SWARC’s recent meetings in the past few months. They have often been brief involving little discussion and little action.

The commission will meet again on June 16.

Earlier this month, the SWARC’s advising law firm, Taft Stettinius & Hollister and Spectrum Gaming, hosted an educational seminar for small businesses seeking to apply for up to 60 competitive retail and 30 mobile licenses.

There were almost 90 attendees, including five new businesses at the seminar.

Why is Maryland Online Sports Betting Taking So Long?

A disparity study is underway to see if the commission has to make special accommodations to include small businesses in the Maryland sports betting industry.

The inclusive aspect of the legislation, which cleared the state legislature in April 2021, seems to be the major hurdle that keeps the mobile sports betting process from moving forward.

According to Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency communications staff Wednesday, the analysis is in progress, and the agency expects it will be completed within the next few months.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Brandt said he thinks there are many business arrangements that can help achieve the goal of equity and inclusion in the sports betting industry.

Taft attorney and committee consultant Kimberly Copp said she would have a license application draft prepared for commissioners by the next meeting in June.

Maryland Could See Up to 60 Mobile Operators

Maryland lawmakers allowed 17 designated sports betting licenses, in addition to 30 retail betting licenses. Besides, the legislation also allowed up to 60 mobile licenses.

The SWARC and its legal team seek to create the applications for those competitive licenses. However, the Maryland online sports betting may not reach its saturation point as not all 60 mobile licenses would be necessary.

Copp’s remarks regarding the license application draft suggest there is some progress taking place in the Maryland mobile sports betting. However, Wednesday’s meeting did not clarify when applications would open and when online sports betting licenses would be awarded.

How Have We Reached Here?

Maryland voters approved sports betting in November 2020, allowing lawmakers to pass the sports betting bill in April 2021. A month later, Hogan signed the sports betting into law.

The legislation also created the SWARC, which has been tasked with launching the new industry but has failed so far. However, five state casinos launched retail sports betting in Dec. 2021. Since then, these retail locations have handled $132.6 million in total bets.

Meanwhile, Maryland bettors are clamoring for a mobile launch, which has been dragging for more than a year now. There are few chances of making it to the finishing line in 2022.

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