Maryland Regulators Won’t Extend Sports-Betting Application Deadline

September 12, 2022
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The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) gathered in Baltimore on Friday to allow industry stakeholders to share their opinions on proposed sports-betting licensing regulations.

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This story was updated at 11:12 a.m. to identify Arthur Robinson as CEO of Full Circle Solutions

The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) gathered in Baltimore on Friday to allow industry stakeholders to share their opinions on proposed sports-betting licensing regulations.

The hearing lasted about 30 minutes, as regulators reminded potential licensing applicants that they have no plans to extend the state’s mobile and competitive sports wagering application deadline that was recently set for October 21.

James Butler, chief of staff and assistant deputy director of the Maryland Lottery & Gaming Control Agency who moderated the public hearing, said regulators have received several questions about whether an extension of the deadline or additional applications were possible, but the deadline is firm.

That response, posted Thursday (September 8) on the SWARC website under the frequently asked questions section, clarifies that the only application deadline currently is October 21.

“The establishment of any additional application is at SWARC’s discretion and will require approval of the SWARC members,” Butler said, quoting the agency’s website.

According to the Maryland sport-betting law approved last year, SWARC will issue up to 60 online sports betting licenses and up to 30 so-called Class B facility licenses for retail sportsbooks at locations other than casinos, racetracks, sports stadiums and certain other specified venues.

“If SWARC does not award the maximum number of licenses, SWARC may, but is not required to create additional license application windows for any portion of the remaining mobile licenses or Class B Facility licenses,” Butler said.

Friday’s public hearing was not the last day comments will be accepted on the proposed regulations. Butler said written comments will be accepted through September 26.

After that, suggested changes will be considered by the SWARC and possibly included in the final licensing regulations.

One speaker, Arthur Robinson, urged the SWARC to reduce application fees for certain small businesses.

Robinson, CEO of Full Circle Solutions, a licensed casino, video lottery terminal and sports betting contractor and vendor in Baltimore, expressed concern about the $500,000 application fee for mobile licenses.

He also called for the SWARC to make the application fee refundable.

“My issue that I wanted to bring to your attention is that the $500,000 fee for mobile licenses is non-refundable and cuts across all mobile licenses no matter the size,” Robinson said. “Fees should be refunded if a license is not granted and if Class B fees are one-fifth of Class B-1, the same should be true for mobile licenses, and this seems unfair.”

Currently, if a business officially applies for a sports wagering license and is not approved the application fee paid will not be refunded.

The fees — $500,000 for a mobile license, $250,000 for a Class B-1 retail facility, and $50,000 for a smaller Class B-2 facility — are set by state law and would likely require legislative action when lawmakers return to Annapolis next year.

Robinson was one of two speakers during Friday’s hearing. He also suggested several changes to language in the regulations to strengthen the requirement of minority investment and participation by minority- and women-owned businesses in the sports-betting industry.

Robinson also took issue with a section of the proposed SWARC regulations which allows for a lack of experience and operating of sports wagering as being a potential reason for rejection of a license applicant, as well as a further requirement to submit a five-year business plan.

“We believe this should not be a criteria for rejection,” he said. “No one in Maryland has experience in Maryland. Once you get a license you can recruit out-of-state talent with experience.”

It is unclear if the SWARC will consider the suggested changes.

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