Mobile sportsbooks will be approved for launch in Maryland on a rolling basis, and the state’s first online sports betting operators could be taking bets by November or December, gaming officials in the state said today.
The news was revealed during a meeting held today by the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), one of two regulatory bodies overseeing sports betting in Maryland.
“If SWARC does not receive more (sports betting license) applications than are permitted — namely 30 facility and 60 mobile — it may be desirable and is arguably beneficial for SWARC to award licenses to applicants on a rolling basis, as SWARC does a review of the applications and Lottery & Gaming finds the individual qualified for license,” said Jim Nielsen, COO of the Maryland Lottery & Gaming Control Agency, the other regulatory body.
Rolling out sports betting one operator at a time is a contrast to Ohio, where all operators will be allowed to start accepting bets on Jan. 1.
“We all know that the public is clamoring to get sports betting. We get comments about ‘why hasn’t it launched yet’ every day,” Nielsen said. “SWARC can make mobile sports betting available somewhat sooner by awarding licenses on a rolling basis. Again, if we don’t get 60 applications, anyone that submits a timely and acceptable application may be awarded a license.”
SWARC is responsible for approving sports betting operator and vendor license applications. Earlier this month, state officials reiterated that they will not budge on an Oct. 21 deadline for license applications, despite pressure. That is the only deadline currently in place, and no plans are in place to accept additional applications following that date.
By law, SWARC has up to 45 days to consider a mobile or competitive retail application, which likely means that sports betting operators that have applied early may be approved and launch in Maryland sooner than competitors.
What a Rolling Launch Means for Sports Bettors in Maryland
If Maryland licenses sports betting companies and allows them to roll out as they are approved piecemeal, it will give sports bettors in Maryland an unusual choice: register and start betting, or wait until their sportsbook of choice (if they have one) comes online.
A phased launch may impact the quality of promotional offers from sportsbooks, which typically blanket a new market with lucrative offers to lure new customers in an emerging market. Without as many competitors, perhaps some operators will choose to hold back spending millions on acquiring customers.
The news of a mobile sports betting launch before 2023 is sweet music to the ears of football fans, who make up a large portion of the sports betting activity annually with wagers on the NFL and NCAA games.
When Will I be Able to Bet Legally Online on Sports in Maryland?
Thursday’s announcement is encouraging, but the MLGCA could only predict that the first mobile sportsbooks would be operational in “November or December.”
We don’t have a firm date as of yet. We also know that only a handful of approved sports betting apps will be available, with more to follow like waves on Annapolis beaches.
Where Can I Bet on Sports in Maryland?
The current application deadline and vetting is in regards to mobile sports betting. Maryland already has seven operational retail sportsbooks, including those operated by Caesars, Barstool, BetMGM, BetRivers, FanDuel, and PointsBet.
Given the deliberate nature of the process from SWARC and MLGCA in 2022, some observers predicted the state would not launch legal sports betting apps until early 2023, perhaps in time for Super Bowl 57.
Maryland law allows up to 60 mobile licenses, which means according to the plan revealed Thursday, the state could allow sportsbooks to become operational as long as that number was not exceeded in total applications received. There is a mandate in Maryland to encourage minority- and women-owned businesses to participate in the sports betting industry.