Five Sportsbooks Now Qualified For Maryland Sports Betting Licenses

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Five sports betting facilities are expected to be licensed in Maryland soon, but not much has happened with the licensing of the companies that will operate those sportsbooks — until now. 

Thursday morning, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) qualified five sportsbooks, which are partnered with the five casinos, for retail operator licenses. The sportsbooks qualified under “alternative licensing standards” used to expedite vetting of applicants pending a full background investigation.  

Sportsbooks that qualified for retail licensing today are:

– Barstool (Hollywood Casino Perryville)

FanDuel (Live! Casino and Hotel)

Caesars/William Hill (Horseshoe Baltimore)

– TwinSpires (Ocean Downs)

BetMGM (MGM National Harbor)

Completion of the background investigation into the five sportsbooks will happen “in due course,” according to a Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff memo. Licensing would depend on the outcome of those investigations. 

The five sportsbooks qualified for expedited licensing since they hold valid operator licenses in at least three of 16 states with licensing standards similar to Maryland, per the memo. Maryland law requires that applicants for a sports wagering facility operator license be licensed in at least 3 of 16 “(MLGCC-approved) states” if they don’t hold a current Maryland casino-related license. 

The five sportsbooks are the first to apply since Maryland legalized sports betting in May 2021. 

Next Steps For Maryland Sports Betting

The sportsbooks’ casino partners are among 17 sites designated for licensing in Maryland’s sports betting law, passed this year. Those casinos are expected to be licensed by the state as early as this fall, pending action by two state regulatory bodies.

But it’s uncertain whether sports betting in Maryland will begin this year, given recent slowdowns in the awarding of licensing by one of those bodies, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission, or SWARC. 

SWARC on Wednesday punted licensing of the five casinos to on or around Nov. 18, after the panel requested additional information from the casino owners. SWARC canceled a meeting it had scheduled in October.  

“We’ll continue sending applications to the SWARC so that it can make awards and sports wagering can launch by late fall. It’s what the public wants and expects, and we’re doing everything we can to deliver it,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin said in a statement on Oct. 21

The delays are an interesting development in Maryland, where all five casinos and their sportsbook partners have qualified under alternative licensing rules agreed to by both SWARC and Maryland Lottery and Gaming. 

All 17 sites designated for licensing by law began applying  for Maryland sports betting facility licenses in September. The sites are among 107 potential sports betting licensees — including 60 mobile licensees — under Maryland’s 2021 sports betting law. 

About the Author

Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, she has been known to watch UK basketball from time to time.

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