Maryland mobile sports betting regulations inched toward final approval Wednesday as state regulators reviewed drafts of the application and rules that will guide the competitive licensing process.
Just don’t bank on a mobile launch by kickoff of the 2022 NFL season on Sept. 8.
Besides a pending “industry analysis” that may require additional regulatory action, Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) Chair Tom Brandt said both mobile and additional retail licensing rules proposed by SWARC – which reviewed the drafts of the rules and application Wednesday – must also be approved by a Maryland state legislative committee.
A 30-day required public comment period will follow legislative approval and official state publication of the rules.
With SWARC scheduled to meet again on July 20, it seems that a Maryland mobile sportsbook launch in September will be hard to manage. But don’t count it out entirely.
Is a Sept. 8 Launch Out of the Question?
Brandt hasn’t said an early 2022 NFL season launch is completely out of the question. But a statement he made before today’s SWARC draft review seemed designed to brace the public – and state officials – for all possibilities.
Gov. Larry Hogan had asked SWARC in a June 14 letter to move quickly in hopes of having mobile live by the start of the NFL season.
“I’m sharing this information to help us all adjust expectations as we proceed with our responsibilities,” said Brandt. “It’s our continued hope that we may be able to begin accepting applications in late summer.”
High Stakes For Small Entrepreneurs
SWARC approval of up to 60 mobile sports betting licenses and 30 additional retail licenses hinges on approval of the pending SWARC regulations.
A separate part of the licensing process is initial qualification for a license by Maryland Lottery and Gaming (MLG), the regulatory agency responsible for issuing sports betting licenses that SWARC awards. MLG has opened an e-licensing portal to help businesses begin the mobile and competitive retail sports betting licensing for a small fee. Those fees may be at least partially refunded if an applicant needs to back out.
The leeway is an effort to financially protect small businesses – including minority- and women-owned startups — new to the sports betting industry.
Submitting a SWARC application will carry much higher stakes. Fees are $500,000 for a mobile license and $50,000 for a competitive retail license, with little wiggle room once the fees are paid.
On the motion of SWARC commissioner Frank Turner, the commission agreed to have a one-page summary of mobile and additional retail license requirements drafted for potential SWARC applicants. That summary is expected to be presented at the July 20 meeting.
Maryland sports betting launched at the retail level in Dec. 2021 at several of 17 locations designated in state law. All mobile and additional retail licenses not designated by law are waiting on SWARC regulatory approval.