State gaming regulators moved Maryland closer to the long-awaited launch of mobile sports betting on Thursday (October 27) by finding ten applicants were suitable for licensure.
The preliminary approvals by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) now send the applicants to the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) to consider formally awarding them licenses.
The SWARC is scheduled to meet on November 21.
“We’re pleased that we advanced the process, but of course the work continues,” said Maryland Lottery and Gaming director John Martin. “We’re also very happy to see such a varied group of businesses become part of this emerging market in Maryland.”
The ten mobile betting applicants deemed qualified by Maryland regulators are Barstool Sportsbook, Betfred, BetMGM, BetRivers, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, Fanatics, Parx Interactive and PointsBet.
Another applicant, Long Shot’s Hagerstown, was found qualified for a sports wagering facility license. Long Shot’s in Frederick is expected to launch retail wagering next month, according to a lottery official.
James Nielsen, deputy director and chief operating officer of the Maryland Lottery, told commissioners a retail sportsbook is also expected to open at FedEx Field, home of the National Football League’s Washington Commanders, in December.
“So right now, we have seven locations operating and our hope is an eighth opens today,” Nielsen said.
Greenmount OTB’s retail sportsbook, in partnership with betPARX, is expected to open Friday (October 28).
He said consultants are reviewing mobile and retail applications now, including the ten qualified Thursday, and the “hope is to have comments and analysis ready for a meeting next month.”
“At that time, SWARC will be able to award some of the sports wagering licenses,” he said.
Once approved, licensees will have to conduct a controlled demonstration, ensuring that its systems and internal control procedures are functioning correctly. Once those steps are completed, Maryland Lottery and Gaming will issue a license and mobile wagers can be accepted.
The initial start date for mobile wagering will be announced after SWARC has awarded licenses.
Including the ten applicants qualified on Thursday, state gaming regulators can issue up to 60 mobile sports-betting licenses. Thirty additional retail licenses can be issued by the SWARC.
Nielsen confirmed that there were more applications to be considered beyond the 11 approved on Thursday, even some late filings that arrived on the October 21 cut off date.
“We are not quite ready to announce how many applications have been received but expect that to happen soon,” Nielsen said.
The next wave of applications could be considered by the lottery and gaming commission at its next meeting on November 17.
Nielsen reminded commissioners and license applicants that as the state gets into the thick of the licensing process, the rules under the state’s sports-betting law are different for the MLGCC and SWARC.
Nielsen noted that the commission conducts background investigations to determine whether an entity has demonstrated the honesty, integrity, good character and financial stability to be qualified for a license, while SWARC evaluates applicants’ suitability and determines whether awarding a license is in the public interest.
“That should answer some of the questions about why Maryland can’t just flip a switch and turn some of these entities on,” he said. “We would love to be able to do that.”