Maryland Regulators Approve State's Ten Mobile Sports-Betting Licensees

November 17, 2022
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Mobile sports betting could officially begin next week in Maryland after members of the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission unanimously approved the first ten out of 21 pending mobile license applications.

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Mobile sports betting could officially begin next week in Maryland after members of the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) unanimously approved the first ten out of 21 pending mobile license applications.

The next step is sending the operators to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency for further regulatory testing and review of operational requirements before they can officially launch.

No launch date was mentioned during Wednesday’s (November 16) hour-long meeting, but Republican Governor Larry Hogan has said he is confident that mobile wagering would be live next week prior to Thanksgiving.

“We are cautiously optimistic that it will be in time for Thanksgiving,” Hogan said Monday.

SWARC awarded licenses to Barstool Sportsbook, Betfred, BetMGM, BetRivers, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, Fanatics, Parx Interactive and PointsBet.

According to the applications, Barstool Sportsbook will operate online sports betting on behalf of Entertainment’s Hollywood Casino in Perryville, while Betfred will operate wagering for off-track betting parlor Long Shots and Fanatics on behalf of the NFL's Washington Commanders and FedEx Field.

BetMGM joins forces with the affiliated MGM National Harbor, while Caesars will operate mobile for Horseshoe Baltimore Casino.

Other partnerships include DraftKings operating betting for the Maryland State Fairgrounds, FanDuel in partnership with Maryland Live! Casino, Parx Interactive for Greenmount OTB, PointsBet with Riverboat on the Potomac, and Rush Street Interactive will operate mobile wagering for Bingo World.

Under the state’s sports wagering law, SWARC was authorized to conduct a competitive process to award up to 60 mobile licenses and up to 30 Class B facility licenses.

On Monday, regulators confirmed that 21 applications were submitted for mobile licenses, with SWARC also receiving a total of six Class B facility license applications during the application period.

Tom Brandt Jr., chairman of SWARC, said the commission's consultants are reviewing the remaining 11 mobile sports wagering licensing applications and six Class B facility license applications. Brandt was hopeful SWARC will have additional applications to consider at the commission’s next meeting on December 14.

“Mobile will account for the bulk of the revenue from sports wagering and we are eager to allow Maryland to enter that market,” Brandt said. “I am grateful to all involved for doing their best to measure twice and cut once.”

Retail sportsbooks have been in operation in Maryland since December, with the state’s eight sportsbooks posting total gross revenue through October of $33.2m. VIXIO GamblingCompliance estimates gross revenue from retail and mobile sports betting in Maryland to be $271m next year, followed by $351m in 2024 and $435m in 2025.

“This is clearly going to be a sustainable business,” the chairman said.

Brandt admitted the language of the law that created SWARC “has been challenging and our commission has taken seriously its intent to enable diverse participation in this new industry.”

The licensing process was delayed as SWARC was required to wait on the results of a sports-betting industry study.

In a preview of the study’s findings in August, the commission found that it could not apply race and/or gender conscious criteria in its licensing process.

Instead, SWARC adopted regulations requiring each license applicant to demonstrate that at least 5 percent of its ownership is held by individuals with a personal net worth of less than $1.847m.

Each applicant approved Wednesday met that requirement, with a series of documents submitted to the commission indicating several strategies were employed by the operators to reach compliance.

For example, DraftKings said it granted 5 percent of equity in its Maryland subsidiary at little cost to two individuals including a Baltimore-based attorney and lobbyist who represents the company.

Caesars, Penn Entertainment and the Washington Commanders similarly have awarded 5 percent equity to Maryland-based partners with a net worth below the threshold, while some 91 employees of Maryland Live! Casino have taken up an option to directly invest in the casino's mobile sportsbook operation.

Maryland licensing regulations further require operators to certify that they will make additional good-faith efforts to attract future investment from minority- and women-owned groups in the state.

“For [Wednesday’s] awardees the SWARC staff will be contacting you about completing the statutorily required memorandum of understanding (MOU),” Brandt said. “Once that MOU is completed and signed and a decision statement has been issued, today’s action will be final.”

Additional reporting by James Kilsby.

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