Maryland is a few hours from opening its first in-person sportsbook, with another one or two retail sportsbooks opening on Friday. Now sports bettors in the Old Line State are asking when Maryland online sports betting will launch.
Probably in mid-to late 2022, Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA) Director John Martin said in a statement to Gaming Today on Wednesday.
Maryland Mobile Sports Betting Launch Expected Mid-To Late 2022
“The launch of mobile wagering is likely to be in the second half of 2022, hopefully in time for the start of the 2022 NFL season,” Martin said via email. “The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) is responsible for awarding the mobile licenses, and they are working to create the application criteria and process.”
Mobile sports betting is licensed separately from in-person sports betting under Maryland law. Right now, state regulators at both MLGCA and SWARC are wrapping up retail sports betting licensing for 17 brick-and-mortar locations where in-person sportsbooks are written into state law. They include MGM National Harbor, which is expected to open its retail sportsbook today.
Licensing of up to 60 mobile sportsbooks and up to 30 additional “class B” retail sports betting locations is up next – although there’s no hard-and-fast deadline to get the job done.
“While the timing is uncertain, Maryland Lottery and Gaming stands ready to fulfill our role, which is to conduct background investigations of each mobile applicant and determine whether they have the integrity and financial stability to receive a license,” Martin told Gaming Today.
Martin added, “We know there is a lot of revenue potential in mobile wagering, and we’ll do our part to get it started as quickly as possible.”
The Future Of Maryland Mobile Sports Betting
SWARC discussed mobile licensing at its Nov. 18 meeting, including the possibility of partnerships between mobile operators and additional class B retail sportsbooks licensed later on.
Cid Froelich, a partner at Taft Law in Chicago, is working with SWARC as a gaming law advisor. He told the commission at the November meeting that he plans to encourage partnerships between mobile operators and small class B licensees.
“(We want them) to plug into their equation how they can hook up with, and become the sports operator for, the additional class B licenses. Those are probably difficult for most people to apply for on their own,” said Froelich.
Mobile operators will also be encouraged by Taft to seek out “active minority participation, active female participation,” said Froelich. The mobile licenses and the additional class B sportsbooks will be competitively bid, with minority- and women-owned businesses having an edge in the application process under Maryland’s 2021 sports betting law.
Although up to 60 mobile licenses are possible, it’s uncertain if SWARC will award the maximum.
SWARC Holds A Lot Of Sway
Who gets a license – and when – is really up to SWARC. We anticipate some of the top sports betting apps to launch in Maryland, including PointsBet who just partnered with the Maryland Terrapins, and BetMGM who previously announced the first partnership with the Baltimore Ravens. It’s unclear, though, who will snag the large number of Maryland mobile betting licenses available, a larger number than are available in other legal states.
Just like licensing of Maryland’s 17 retail sportsbooks designated in law, mobile and competitively-bid retail licenses must be awarded by SWARC before they can be issued by MLGCA. So whatever SWARC decides can steer the direction of mobile sports betting, at least, for the foreseeable future.
According to Froelich, those decisions could come sooner rather than later.
“Quick and fast’ is the buzzword here, and we’re supposed to comply with that,” he said at the Nov. 18 meeting.
Revenues from retail and online sports betting in Maryland is expected to net about $100 million per year, according to an analysis by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services.