Last Thursday, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission unanimously approved its drafted sports betting rules, keeping the state on track for a fall launch.

The 228-page draft spells out how sports betting will be conducted in the Old Line State. However, the rules must be opened for a 30-day public comment period before they are finalized. The opening of the application process would be available on the MLGC’s website soon, according to a spokesperson. Other details, including final rule approval, will also be available on the site afterward.

Though no formal launch date has been scheduled, all stakeholders are eying for the NFL betting.

Before the meeting on Wednesday, the commission posted the 228 pages of rules. According to it, each sports betting licensee will be entitled to one mobile platform. The new law allows for retail betting at existing casinos, racetracks, the state fair, and other venues, in addition to statewide mobile betting.

Most Inclusive Sports Betting Law

Maryland’s sports betting law is the most inclusive in the country, making the industry tailor-made for women- and minority-owned businesses. The regulator included a chapter in the sports betting law, outlining the parameters and availability of licenses for women-and and minority-owned businesses, including a discounted application fee.

The law stipulates a fund that helps minority- and women-owned businesses from fees taken from bigger operators.

Maryland sports betting can have as many as 60 mobile sportsbooks at its saturation level. The law allows six casinos and three professional sports venues to apply for a license. Additional licenses will be awarded to horse tracks and the state fairgrounds

The remaining 48 mobile licenses will be available for minor league baseball parks, restaurants, and plenty of other businesses. Old Line State will be the first state to award sports betting licenses to businesses outside sports or the gaming industry related to sports betting.

Many of those businesses can also apply for one of the 30 retail sports betting licenses. Once all the licenses are granted, Maryland would have the most retail sportsbooks in any state outside Nevada.

Two-part Application Approval

The new rules – including the application and licensing process – will be a two-part process. It forms the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), a seven-member commission mandated by the new law and MLGC.

According to the new law, MLGC is empowered to determine whether an applicant meets a certain qualification for a license.

The SWARC – after the Commission determines an applicant is qualified – will evaluate an applicant for license award, and notify the MLGC of its decision.

Different Criteria for Different Types of Licenses

The new rules further break down the different types of licenses available for Maryland sports betting:

Type A-1: Professional sports facilities, including professional teams, and any future pro teams. There is a $2 million application fee and a $6 million license bond.

Type A-2: Video lottery operators with fewer than 1,000 terminals and horse racetracks. There is a $1 million application fee and a $3 million license bond.

Type B-1: Those applicants that are not eligible for a Class B-2 facility license, and includes the Maryland State Fairgrounds. The law prescribes a $250,000 application fee and a $750,000 license bond for this type.

Type B-2: Businesses with less than 25 employees and less than $3 million aggregate receipts. It includes small businesses and bingo halls. There is a $50,000 application fee and a $75,000 license bond.

All these types of licenses can offer retail sports betting, and any licensed sports betting facility can apply for a mobile betting license for an additional $500,000.

But Law Is Not Without Controversy…

But even the most inclusive sports betting rules may raise eyebrows among the critics as Maryland regulation appears to include the mandatory use of official league data on all wager types, not just individual prop wagers. If this provision goes unchanged in final rules, it could mean additional fees for operators and a huge financial setback for smaller sports betting partners in a highly competitive environment.

In addition to the apparent official league data requirement, the $500,000 application fee for a mobile sports betting license appears in stark contrast to the claims of inclusive sports betting law aimed at giving preference to small entities and minority-and women-owned businesses.

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