Maryland’s sports betting market could be up-and-running sooner than expected, with up to 10 licenses set to be issued on Wednesday. Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) announced Monday that it will consider awarding licenses for online sports betting sites at a meeting on November 16, rather than November 21, as had previously been expected.
Following the announcement from SWARC, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency said that pending the award of any licenses on Wednesday, the launch of mobile sports betting in Maryland could happen in time for Thanksgiving, which is November 24.
The Maryland Lottery and Gaming also said that it will pick out an “initial” start date once SWARC awards licenses. Businesses that fulfill all requirements will then be able to launch. Moreover, other sportsbooks could launch in the days and weeks that follow as they obtain their respective approvals.
The SWARC will consider awarding licenses to 10 entities at its Wednesday meeting. Those applicants can then use an operator partner to run their mobile wagering businesses when they get their permits. They include:
Bingo World in Brooklyn Park (under the name Arundel Amusements) BetMGM Maryland Sports DraftKings (under the name Crown MD Online Gaming) Greenmount Off-Track Betting in Hampstead Long Shot’s in Frederick Washington Commanders football team (under the name Maryland Stadium Sub) Hollywood Casino Perryville (under the name PENN Maryland OSB) Live! Casino and Hotel in Hanover (under the name PPE Maryland Mobile) Riverboat on the Potomac in Charles County Washington Commanders’ stadium
“Our staff has been in continuous contact with these mobile sports wagering businesses, and has already guided them through many of the necessary steps,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin said in a press release. “The last hurdle is for them to have controlled demonstrations, and SWARC’s awards of licenses on Wednesday would clear the way for that to happen.”
It was late last month that the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission found those 10 entities and their operating partners qualified to hold mobile sports betting licenses.
“Our focus for this meeting [on November 21] will be the mobile applicants who have been qualified by MLGCC,” SWARC Chair Tom Brandt said in a statement. “We will have additional award consideration meetings as SWARC and our advisors continue to review applications, and our next scheduled meeting is December 14. Mobile wagering will account for the bulk of the revenue from sports wagering, and we’re eager to enable Maryland to enter that market.”
After several delays, Maryland’s online sports gambling industry will finally launch, nearly two years after voters legalized the gaming expansion via the ballot. Maryland’s delay is the longest of any state to launch since the Supreme Court decision that paved the way for individual states to introduce sports betting legislation.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statement praising the progress, and criticizing the delays, in getting mobile sports betting underway in Maryland. “To reach this point, we have had to overcome countless legal, political, and bureaucratic delays that threatened to push back the launch past the Super Bowl next year,” Hogan said in the statement, retrieved by The Baltimore Banner. “It was completely unacceptable to me, and we spent months pressing for decisive action.”
Hogan added he’s “cautiously optimistic” mobile sports betting will start by Thanksgiving. SWARC has been deliberate in awarding licenses, careful to follow the details of the state’s complicated licensing structure, with one key concern being to ensure participation by minority- and women-owned businesses.
Given many of the first operators applying for licenses already have some sort of retail presence in the state, the process may be expedited. The 2020 ballot measure opens the door for up to 60 online sportsbook licenses, although it could potentially take years for that number of operators to apply.
Maryland currently has eight facilities that offer in-person sports betting, including five casinos, Bingo World, Riverboat on the Potomac and Greenmount Off-Track Betting. In October, gamblers spent $39.66 million on sports bets in Maryland, with the sportsbooks paying out $34.35 million in winnings.