When the Baltimore Ravens announced their mobile and retail partnership with Caesars Sportsbook last week, Maryland sports fans were amped.
Professional sports stadiums are on the shortlist of businesses that are practically assured retail sports betting licenses under the state’s 2021 sports betting law, signed back in May. With unanimous approval for those businesses’ licensing qualifications granted on Aug. 16 by the state’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), it looked like Maryland sports betting was finally ready to launch.
And it will. But, not yet. There are still a few more steps left before Maryland sports betting arrives — much to the dismay of restless fans.
The wait, however, may not go on much longer. Officials involved in bringing Maryland sports betting onboard say they’re “optimistic at least some gambling will be in place later this fall — and certainly in time for the NFL Super Bowl in early 2022,” the Baltimore Sun tweeted last Saturday.
No firm launch date has yet been released.
Pro Sports Stadiums and Casinos Likely To Launch First
M&T Bank Stadium is one of 17 venues that are assured a license for in-person sports betting under state law as long as the venues pass a state background check. Another is Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, which will host retail sports betting for the Ravens franchise under the Caesars brand.
The Ravens are also partnered with Caesars for mobile sports betting, which could launch sometime in the coming months.
Rounding out the premier list of 17 likely retail licensees are Oriole Park at Camden Yards, FedEx Field, Live! Casino and Hotel, MGM National Harbor, Pimlico and Laurel Park race tracks, and the state fairgrounds, as well as some smaller casinos, OTBs, and bingo halls.
The next regulatory step for each of the 17 businesses is the required background investigation and a licensing application process that had yet to start early today — although regulators at the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency have encouraged the venues to begin prepping documentation now.
“(The 17 venues) will be able to proceed to their licensing background investigations when Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s online eLicensing system is ready to accept their applications. The exact date is not yet available,” the agency says on its website.
Sixty mobile licenses and up to 30 additional retail licenses will also be issued. There is no word from regulators on when a mobile launch is likely — although state regulators have hinted that it may not be this fall.
“Some of the entities named in the Sports Wagering Law may have their brick-and-mortar sports wagering operations up and running during the fall of 2021,” states Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control says on its website. “For a business that is not named in the Sports Wagering Law, the review by SWARC and a licensing background investigation could take between 12 and 24 months from May 2021.”
Remaining Regulatory Steps
Right now, Maryland is in the middle of a 30-day public comment period on its emergency sports betting regulations approved by the state on Aug. 5 and published on Aug. 27.
A public meeting for anyone interested in Maryland sports betting regulations will be held at 10 a.m. on Sept. 22 at Baltimore’s Montgomery Park Business Center. Comments are being received through the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control website here, with all public comment ending on Sept. 27.
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.
With any luck, however, sport bettors won’t have to wait until January to place their wagers. Washington DC’s WTOP reported last Saturday that Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Director John Martin expects a launch as soon as this fall.
“We’re looking at late fall, early winter. It is our intent to expedite the process as efficiently as we can to get us there,” Martin was quoted as saying.