Maryland Wagering Commission Makes Progress Toward Mobile Launch

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In response to the governor’s reprimand, Maryland Wagering Commission finally took some serious tone Thursday regarding a long-awaited mobile launch.

Gov. Larry Hogan wrote a letter Wednesday, calling for the SWARC to launch the industry by September.

However, the Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) still remained short of giving a launch date during its monthly meeting.

In response to the governor’s demands, the SWARC members spoke Thursday with unprecedented seriousness about a timeline for the online sports betting launch in Old Line State.

While retail Maryland sports betting launched in December 2021, mobile launch still awaits a timeline by the operators. Considering the recent SWARC progress, the year 2022 seems an unlikely possibility.

What Did Maryland Wagering Commission Chairman Say?

 The SWARC Chairman Thomas Brandt began the meeting by addressing Hogan’s letter.

“I understand that many are frustrated that the process relating to the issuance of Maryland mobile sports betting licenses has been time-consuming, Brandt said, and assured that the commission and its support team have been operating as diligently and deliberately as they can under the state’s sports betting law.

Hogan officially legalized Maryland sports betting by signing legislation in May 2021, months after the state voters approved the measure in November 2020. While five casinos began accepting retail bets in Old Line State, the commission worked at a snail’s pace toward awarding mobile licenses.

However, Maryland sports betting legislation allows a gradual process toward a mobile launch. According to the law, the commission is required to complete a disparity analysis via the state’s Attorney General’s Office. That study is still underway.

Highlighting the legal requirement, Brandt said the steps are necessary for the commission to set forth a sports betting application evaluation process that is legally sound. He added that the steps should also be permissible by law, and allows the Maryland Wagering Commission to seek to achieve racial, ethnic, and gender diversity when giving the wagering licenses.

What Was in the Governor’s Letter?

In his letter to SWARC, Hogan lashed out at commissioners for allowing the process to delay in overly bureaucratic procedures that have ultimately delayed the state’s ability to maximize the revenue potential from the sports betting industry.

He asked the commissioners to take decisive actions on several fronts to launch the mobile wagering for NFL betting.

The governor wanted SWARC to prioritize awarding online licenses to retail entities mentioned in the legislation, which cleared the state legislature in April 2021.

Hogan wants the SWARC to address to set a timeline for mobile betting launch, release drafts of the sports betting applications and regulations, and approve licenses on a rolling basis.

It was not the first time Hogan expressed displeasure over the mobile Maryland sports betting delay, which has turned out to be the longest delay from legalization to launch in the nation.

Hogan also wrote that sports fans in Maryland want to be able to place legal wagers through their mobile devices… “and they are angry and discouraged over SWARC’s inability to make it happen.”

Still No Launch Date

Despite the governor’s demand for a firm and a transparent timeline, the commission did not give a launch date.

Hogan said that the first mobile applications should be available “sometime in the summer.”

However, it all depends on SWARC and the state Attorney General’s Office, which is currently completing a disparity analysis.

Meanwhile, the Maryland Lottery is likely to publish the first rules and regulations, which will be discussed and likely voted on during a meeting later this month.

According to Jim Nielsen, deputy director, and chief operating officer at the Maryland Lottery, those regulations are about 95% done.

During that time, SWARC will review initial drafts for mobile applications.

Brandt said Thursday the commission would know more about a potential timeline as more tasks are completed.

The next commission meeting is tentatively scheduled for later this month, on June 29. Typically, the SWARC only meets once a month.

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