Questions about Maryland sports betting launch delays have been raised now that a regulatory meeting scheduled for Thursday has been postponed.
The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) was expected to discuss, and possibly award, retail licenses for Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, MGM National Harbor, and Live! Casino and Hotel this week, although a meeting agenda was never posted. All three casinos qualified under “alternative licensing standards” through the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) on Oct. 6 in an attempt to expedite a Maryland launch this fall.
Last week’s vote came almost two months after SWARC agreed to accept MLGCC qualification as “sufficient” for it to award retail licenses to the casinos. The 17 designated locations began applying for licenses last month.
A new meeting date for SWARC has not yet been posted on its official website.
The postponement came a few days after Gov. Larry Hogan went on Twitter to urge Marylanders to push SWARC for action on the three licenses.
Our administration recently approved the first three locations for sports wagering in Maryland.
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) October 8, 2021
How We Got Here
It’s uncertain what derailed the scheduled meeting. SWARC staff told Gaming Today in an email Wednesday, however, that the background investigation process by Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA) is still ongoing.
Whether or not delays in that process led to the postponement of the meeting is unclear.
“The background investigation process is being handled by the MLGCA,” Maryland Department of Legislative Services Principal Policy Analyst Matthew Bennett told Gaming Today. “I have not received any information that the postponement of the SWARC meeting will impact that process in any way.”
Bennett said there is no new SWARC meeting date set at this time.
A Brief History Of Maryland’s Sports Betting Licensing Process
The three casinos that are awaiting SWARC action are among 17 retail sports betting venues designated in state law. All 17 locations are assured Maryland retail licenses pending a state background check and a license awarded by SWARC.
The three casinos that have already qualified for retail licenses have already installed, or are installing, sports betting lounges in anticipation of a 2021 opening. Horseshoe Casino Baltimore has partnered with Caesars for retail and mobile. MGM National Harbor is part of the BetMGM network, with Live! Casino and Hotel penning a deal with FanDuel.
A total of 47 retail sports betting licenses are available under Maryland law, although only 17 are designated in law (six casinos, three pro sports facilities, two horse tracks sharing a single license, five OTBs, and two bingo halls). The remaining 30 will be competitively bid at a later date — a timeline for that process is expected to be posted on the MLGCA website when ready.
Up to 60 mobile licenses will also be awarded by the state through competitive bid. A timeline for mobile licensing has not been released, although a mobile launch isn’t anticipated until in 2022.