Maryland online sportsbook licenses advanced

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Maryland regulators advanced 10 mobile sportsbook operators’ licenses Thursday, another key step in what officials hope will be a late 2022 launch.

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission advanced the licenses of each of the 10 sportsbooks without debate during a meeting Thursday. The vote continues Maryland’s lengthy launch process, which remains on pace for a December launch.

All applicants advanced Thursday will now have to earn approval from the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), a separate regulatory body. The SWARC is scheduled to meet Nov. 21.

Following SWARC approval, each operator would also need approval from an independent lab tester, a process that typically takes several weeks. With a late November SWARC sign-off and follow-up lab testing approval, the state’s first sportsbooks would be on pace to go live in December.

Maryland will not have a universal start, meaning approved and licensed sportsbooks can take bets as soon as they’re ready instead of waiting for a designated go-live date.

Maryland’s online sportsbooks are set to go live more than 18 months after the state’s sports betting legalization legislation was signed into law and more than two years after voters amended the state constitution to permit mobile as well as retail sportsbooks. The online launch timeline will be the lengthiest of the more than 20 states with legal mobile sportsbooks.

FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars, which combined have more than 80% of the US sports betting market share by handle, all had mobile licenses advanced during Thursday’s meeting. The quartet, all of which have opened retail books in the state or announced plans to do so, are expected to be among the first digital platforms to start taking mobile bets in Maryland.

Other leading operators including Rush Street Interactive’s BetRivers, Penn Entertainment’s Barstool Sportsbook as well as PointsBet, which also operate retail books in the state, also had their respective license applications advanced Thursday. BetPARX, which is set to open a Maryland retail book Friday, was also advanced. Betfred, another company set to open a retail sportsbook in the state, was likewise advanced.

Fanatics was the 10th license applicant advanced. The company has not launched its online sportsbook yet, but is expected to do so in Maryland, Ohio and several other states sometime in 2023.

Maryland’s 2021 sports betting law permits up to 60 mobile sportsbooks but it could be months until any additional operators beyond those already in the approval process go live. New Jersey and Colorado are the only two states with more than 20 live online sportsbooks.

Maryland regulators Thursday also announced that the state’s ninth and 10th retail sportsbooks could open by year’s end. Five of the state’s six casinos have retail books, while several off-track betting facilities have either opened their books or are soon set to do so.

One of the books expected to open in the coming months will be near the Washington Commanders’ FedEx Field in Landover. The book would be the second to open on an NFL stadium campus, following the BetMGM book at the Arizona Cardinals’ State Farm Stadium.

Once live, mobile wagering is expected to make up more than 90% of the state’s total sports betting handle.

About the author

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Ryan Butler

Ryan is a veteran sports betting and iGaming regulation and breaking news journalist based in the US. A two-time Associated Press Sports Editors award winner, he has reported on sports and politics since 2012. He has covered the gaming industry since 2018. Ryan graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Journalism and a minor in Sport Management.

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