Maryland Looks at Competitive Sportsbook Licensing

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With the 17 businesses named in Maryland’s sports betting law now free to apply for a retail license, state regulators today looked at when 90 competitive licenses available under the law could eventually be awarded. 

Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) Chairman Thomas M. Brandt told the panel that racial and gender standards will be considered, as required by law, when awarding the licenses, including 30 “Class B” retail licenses for venues not named in the law and 60 mobile/online licenses. “In awarding them, the Commission must actively achieve racial, ethnic, and gender diversity, and encourage applicants who qualify as MBE (Minority Business Enterprise)  or are small minority or women-owned businesses to apply for these licenses,” Brandt said. 

Applications approved by SWARC will be sent to regulators at the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA), which must conduct background investigations on the applicant.

Applicants who pass the background check can then be issued a sports wagering license. 

No one can apply for the 90 competitive licenses yet, although e-licensing for the 17 non-competitive licenses opened on Sept. 14. Those licenses are expected to be awarded later this fall. 

What Maryland Sports Betting Retail Licenses Remain? 

The 17 venues named in the law are practically guaranteed a retail license under Maryland’s sports betting law, barring any hiccups in their background check. SWARC voted unanimously on Aug. 16 in favor of those 17 businesses proceeding with licensure under standards set by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission.

Most of these 17 entities are classified as “Class A’ — typically large venues, including pro sports stadiums, large casinos, and race tracks. Seven are smaller venues classified as B-1 (25 or more full-time employees or more than $3 million in annual gross receipts) and B-2 (24 or fewer full-time employees or less than $3 million in annual gross receipts). 

The 30 Maryland retail licenses that remain are also reserved for B-1 and B-2 venues, although they will be awarded competitively, as will the 60 mobile licenses. The application process for those entities will open sometime later, although it’s uncertain when that will be.  

“A date when other entities may submit their applications has not been determined,” MLGCA says on its website. “SWARC must adopt regulations governing the evaluation of applicants, such as requirements to include a business plan, and to describe MBE participation through equity, employment and/or purchasing.”

MLGCA has repeatedly said a launch of mobile and Class B retail not named in state law could happen as late as May 2022, or even 2023. 

What’s Next for Maryland Sports Betting

Brandt set the next meeting of SWARC for Thursday, Oct. 14 at 3 p.m., and it’s expected to be broadcast virtually. An agenda isn’t yet available. 

It is likely that SWARC will then tie up loose ends required for licensing of the 17 named entities, plus proceed with any necessary rulemaking. Brandt indicated today that SWARC’s work is proceeding as it should. 

“We’re not dragging our feet by any stretch,” Brandt said. 

A 30-day public comment period on Maryland’s emergency sports betting regulations will end on Sept. 27. MLGCA will also hold a public meeting on the regulations tomorrow, with comments accepted by those in attendance. A live audio-only stream of the meeting will also be available. 

Emergency sports betting regulations will be in place in Maryland through no later than Jan. 25, 2022. Permanent regulations will take over when the emergency period ends.

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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