Although it has been almost six months since Republican Governor Larry Hogan was joined by politicians and retired athletes as he placed the first legal retail sports bet in Maryland at MGM National Harbor, mobile wagering still has not been launched.
“We are hopeful that mobile sports wagering will launch during the 2022 football season,” said Carole Gentry, a spokeswoman with the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA).
Gentry said a diversity analysis of the sports wagering industry is in progress.
“The findings and recommendations will play an important role as the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) create the application process for mobile licenses,” Gentry told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.
Maryland officially legalized wagering last year when Hogan signed a sports betting bill into law on May 18, 2021, after voters approved a ballot initiative on November 8, 2020.
According to Maryland's sports betting law, the SWARC is tasked with actively seeking to achieve racial, ethnic, and gender diversity when awarding licenses.
Gentry said the analysis is examining the sports wagering industry and the opportunities within the industry for women- and minority-owned businesses.
“The work will be completed within the next few months, after which the SWARC will create the application criteria and regulations to govern the application process,” Gentry said.
On Thursday, the SWARC’s monthly meeting was adjourned in less than 30 minutes but not before the state attorney general’s office declined to update the commission on the status of the disparity study review.
“Can we get an update on the study review?” commissioner Randy Marriner asked at the end of the meeting.
“I’ll tell you what, I’ll send you an email telling you why we are not providing an update,” David Stamper, a staff attorney with the Maryland Attorney General’s office, told Marriner.
The SWARC is waiting for the disparity study to be completed before it can move forward with the process of opening applications for mobile wagering licenses. Mobile betting is already offered in the neighboring District of Columbia and Virginia.
The seven-member commission has the task of awarding 30 retail sports wagering licenses and up to 60 mobile sports betting licenses.
“I’ve tried on that topic, and I’ve been admonished,” SWARC chairman Thomas Brandt Jr. told his colleagues.
Currently, five of the six casinos in Maryland offer retail sports betting.
In March, the total handle in Maryland was $31.02m, with revenue of $3.8m. Since sports betting launched on December 9, the total handle has topped $105.6m with revenues above $12.1m.
Four additional businesses have all been awarded retail sports betting licenses by the commission but launch dates for those four locations have not been announced.
Long Shot's in Frederick, Greenmount Station in Hampstead, Bingo World in Anne Arundel County, and Riverboat on the Potomac in Charles County have all been approved to operate sports wagering.
“All four are working to complete a number of tasks that are necessary for them to launch,” Gentry said told VIXIO after the commission meeting.
“Some are doing construction of their sports wagering areas, and all are working with Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff to obtain approval of their internal control systems, security and surveillance systems, and responsible gaming plans.”
“We anticipate they will start taking wagers in the next couple of months,” she added.
During Thursday’s meeting, Brandt asked Jim Nielson, chief operating officer at MLGCA, what they’ve learned so far while conducting investigations of potential licensees.
“What we are seeing is what we expected,” Nielson said. “Some of the entities with less experience in the gaming segment are learning that it is more complicated than they had anticipated but we expected that there is a learning curve for anyone new to the industry.”