PointsBet Among Companies Setting Sights On Mobile In Maryland

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PointsBet USA officials say they want Maryland mobile sports betting to be simultaneously launched by 17 locations already slated for retail licenses under state law.

“We would ask the (Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission) to consider a formal rule, along the lines of minority participation as has been stated here just recently, which outlines a requirement for all qualified entities of the 17 listed to be afforded the opportunity to launch in unison, on an equal starting line — mobile operations,” PointsBet USA Sr VP Paul Hannon told regulators during a public meeting of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA) today. 

“This is for online operations in particular,” said Hannon. “This would not allow for any unfair advantage for any approved operators and provide equal treatment under the law including for minority business enterprises in the spirit of the law as passed.”

The public meeting on Maryland’s proposed sports betting regulations is the last one scheduled before a public comment period ends on Sept. 27.  

PointsBet is a retail partner of the Riverboat on the Potomac, an OTB licensed in Maryland. The riverboat is one of 17 locations (including pro sports stadiums, casinos, and race tracks) that are practically assured a retail sports betting license under Maryland law. 

The 17 venues started applying for retail licenses last week and now are looking ahead to the big prize — mobile and online sports betting. As many as 60 mobile and online mobile licenses will be competitively awarded in Maryland, with licensing pending. Retail licensees, including retail license holders among the 17 named locations, are not guaranteed a mobile license. 

A future mobile launch date in Maryland has not been determined. Retail sports betting is expected to launch sometime this fall under the 17 locations named in the law.

Mobile Licensing And Minority Participation

How, and when, mobile licenses are awarded was on the mind of others at the meeting in Baltimore. 

Gwen McCall with Bet On Maryland, an organization focused on equitable sports betting markets, told state regulators that all mobile and online licenses should be awarded at the same time — without carving out exceptions for mobile launched by brick-and-mortar businesses. 

“If you give the brick-and-mortar facilities the opportunity to apply for the online licenses and move forward before all the other mobile licenses, that deters the larger operators from partnering with minorities because there’s no longer an incentive to do that,” said McCall. 

Maryland’s sports betting law is written to ensure that minority and women-owned businesses have an edge in the state’s sports betting market. An independent review panel was added to the law to “actively seek to achieve racial, ethnic and gender diversity when approving applicants,” per the Maryland state regulatory website

Preventing minorities from being first to market is “going to be problematic for minorities,” said McCall. 

Official League Data And Maryland Sports Betting

Support for Maryland’s inclusion of an official league data requirement was announced at today’s meeting by MLB representative Quest Meeks, senior counsel for the Commissioner of Baseball. Meeks called the requirement “a consumer protection issue” to guard integrity of games and betting markets. 

Meeks said the MLB, NBA, PGA Tour, and NFL also would like the state to require operators to cooperate with sports governing bodies on betting investigation, and require that operators report specific information to the sports leagues directly. 

“We have a number of matters that we’re looking into, and cooperation with our investigations is paramount to our ability to again protect the integrity of (our games),” said Meeks. 

What’s Next

Today’s meeting was part of a  30-day public comment period on Maryland’s proposed sports wagering regulations. Public comment made in writing will end on Sept. 27, 2021, with regulatory approval pending. 

Emergency regulations are in place in the meantime. 

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission is expected to meet tomorrow at 10 a.m., although sports betting is not specifically listed on the day’s agenda.

 

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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