Maryland set to advance mobile sports betting licenses ahead of possible November launch

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Maryland regulators are set to advance 10 mobile sports betting licenses Wednesday, potentially clearing the way for mobile sportsbooks to go live before the end of the month.

The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) is set to approve all 10 mobile sportsbooks Wednesday, according to meeting documents. The SWARC moved up the meeting by nearly a week, helping to expedite the final go-live process.

Assuming SWARC approval, the 10 mobile sportsbooks must each earn certification from an independent, third-party lab tester. The process typically takes several days.

Maryland does not have a universal go-live date, meaning an operator can go live as soon as they earn all needed regulatory approvals. No sportsbook has announced a firm launch timeline.

Still, the Nov. 16 meeting means it’s possible Maryland’s first online sportsbooks begin accepting wagers before the end of November.

“We had originally planned our next meeting to be November 21, but we’ve been working with our consultants from Taft Stettinius & Hollister and Spectrum Gaming Group to accelerate the pace and hold it earlier,” SWARC Chair Tom Brandt said in a statement ahead of Wednesday’s meeting. “We thank them for their diligence and professionalism through this process.”

FanDuel, Caesars, BetMGM and DraftKings, which combined have more than 80% of the US sports betting handle by market share, are all set to be approved for mobile sports betting Wednesday. FanDuel, Caesars and BetMGM all run retail sportsbooks at casinos in the state while DraftKings has applied to manage a retail book at the Maryland State Fairgrounds.

Other national brands including Penn Entertainment’s Barstool Sportsbook, Rush Street Interactive’s BetRivers as well as PointsBet and Betfred are also on Wednesday’s agenda for approval. All four either manage a retail book in the state already or have announced plans to do so.

Greenwood Gaming is also set to launch its betPARX mobile sportsbook in the state. The digital gaming platform for Greenwood, which owns the Parx Casino in Pennsylvania, is live in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for both online sports betting as well as digital casino gaming.

Fanatics’ digital sportsbook is the 10th applicant on Wednesday’s agenda. The company has not yet launched in any state, though it has filed for retail and online wagering licenses in Ohio and announced plans to go live in more than a dozen states.

All but the Fanatics sportsbook appear poised to start taking bets before the end of the year.

Wednesday’s scheduled vote comes more than two years after Maryland voters technically approved sports betting. After voters amended the state constitution to permit sports wagering via the November 2020 ballot, lawmakers passed follow-up regulatory legislation in April 2021. Gov. Larry Hogan signed the legislation into law in May of that year.

Both the ballot measure and the ensuing bill required regulators to consider minority, women and small business ownership stakes in the application process, an additional level of mandates that in part stalled the sports betting launch. The 2021 sports betting bill also created the SWARC, a second regulatory body that worked with the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission and created an additional level of mandates, which further delayed the launch timeline.

Under increasing pressure from Hogan – and the state’s bettors – Maryland regulators began expediting the timeline after progress was largely stalled as officials awaited a lengthy disparity study. Midway through 2022, Maryland gaming officials projected online sports betting wouldn’t come until sometime after New Year’s Day.

Now it appears the state’s first legal online bets could come as early as Thanksgiving.

Maryland’s first retail books opened at five of the state’s six commercial casinos last December, and several more have opened at off-track betting facilities. The state’s first retail sportsbook adjacent to a major professional sports facility is also set to open at the Washington Commanders’ FedEx Field in Landover, possibly before the end of the 2022 NFL season.

Online wagering is expected to make up more than 90% of the state’s betting handle once live.

“We will have additional award consideration meetings as SWARC and our advisors continue to review applications, and our next scheduled meeting is Dec. 14,” Brandt said in a statement. “Mobile wagering will account for the bulk of the revenue from sports wagering, and we’re eager to enable Maryland to enter that market.”

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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