Online sports betting in Maryland could conceivably launch by the end of November, according to one top gaming regulator, which would allow players in the state to wager on a decent chunk of the NFL regular season.
Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin said Tuesday during a webinar that the pace has been picking up in the state. The deadline for online sports betting applications is October 21, and, by October 27, Martin's agency will announce which applicants are qualified, he said.
The names of those qualified applicants will then be forwarded to Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC). If SWARC then awards a license to an operator, the process would return to Maryland Lottery and Gaming to review internal controls and responsible-gaming programs, among other things, before deciding whether to issue the license.
“And it’s our hope that if SWARC can get those to us early November, we may be in the business by the end of November,” Martin said during the VIXIO GamblingCompliance webinar. “If it takes them to the middle of November, it might be the first part of December. So it’s still going to be a little bit of a moving target but once those applicants are awarded and then issued licenses we then see an ongoing, rolling process over the next several weeks after that.”
The latest comments from Martin match up with what he said last month, which is that he was "extremely optimistic" mobile wagering would launch in Maryland sometime this year. Maryland law allows for up to 47 licenses to be granted for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in the state, as well as 60 for online sports betting sites and apps.
In-person sports betting is already underway at seven brick-and-mortar locations in Maryland, including five casinos. Nevertheless, the launch of online sports betting hasn’t happened yet, to the chagrin of the state governor and others, as regulators have had to contend with unique legislation that strives to ensure the participation of women and minorities in the industry.
Martin noted on Tuesday that one of the requirements of Maryland’s sports-betting law was a study of the sports-betting industry, which took a year.
“While it was a necessary element, there certainly was a significant amount of time we lost in that process,” the director said.
Bringing together the Regulators from @MDLottery, @MassGamingComm and Ohio’s Casino Control Commission, our latest webinar will discuss the launch of their upcoming markets and what prospective licensees can expect moving forward. Save your space now: https://t.co/3T8XtDk3l9 pic.twitter.com/e3dZwJJ5WO— VIXIO GamblingCompliance (@GamblingComp) September 30, 2022
Yet the window to apply for Maryland’s online sports betting licenses is now open. After it closes on October 21 (and if there are fewer than 60 applicants), licenses could be awarded on a rolling basis, speeding up the process.
Maryland’s licensing process has four steps: a review by SWARC, a background check by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC), the awarding of a license by SWARC, and then the issuance of the license by the MLGCC after final inspections.
"So if [SWARC] can move favorably, it could be as early as the end of November," Martin said of online sports betting on Tuesday. "If it goes at a more measured pace, it could be by the middle of December. But I am confident that there will be mobile wagering in the state of Maryland in 2022."
Regulators have already got the ball rolling on some of the tasks before them, helped by eager operators. Some of those operators may have already interacted with Maryland regulators as well, such as casino owners that applied for a retail-betting license.
“Maryland Lottery and Gaming has been hard at work on background investigations,” Martin noted in a September 6 release. “A number of businesses that are planning to apply for mobile licenses have already submitted information to get their investigations started, and our Licensing staff will continue guiding them through the qualification procedures. We’re focused on expediting our part of the process so mobile betting can start as soon as possible.”