Maryland regulator hands out first sportsbook licenses

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission’s (MLGCC) Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) has issued five sports betting licenses to land-based casinos in the state.

This comes after the SWARC requested supplemental ownership information from the applicants and decided a meeting would be held on 18 November to approve the licenses.

Maryland regulator awards five sports betting licenses

During a meeting last week Thursday, the SWARC held a meeting where it issued five sports wagering licenses to land-based casinos in Maryland.

Following a lengthy discussion about inclusion, the SWARC approved the licenses in a 5-2 vote.

According to the timeline previously set out by Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency John Martin, these land-based sportsbooks will likely open around 1 January 2022.

Commissioner E. Randolph Marriner, who is also the chairman of the MLGCC  said: “It’s our duty to do the job. Every day we don’t pass people we’ve found to be qualified, the state of Maryland is losing revenue.”

The five casinos, and their sports betting partners, waiting for approval to launch include:

  • Hollywood Casino and Barstool Sportsbook
  • Horseshoe Baltimore and Caesars Sportsbook
  • Live! Casino Maryland and FanDuel Sportsbook
  • MGM National Harbor and BetMGM Sportsbook
  • Ocean Downs and TwinSpires Sportsbook

Although licenses have been issued to the five operators, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA) must still approve the operation of the land-based sportsbooks, which could take between 30 and 45 days according to Martin.

During the Thursday meeting, the MLGCC voted to delegate the authority to issue licenses. 

The Commission said this would speed up the roll-out for legal sports wagering in the state as it would not be necessary for the MLGCC to meet and vote to issue final licenses after each facility has completed a controlled demonstration of its sportsbook product.

MLGCC director John Martin said: “We’re excited to move forward, and we’re coordinating closely with the casinos to make sure they finish everything as quickly as they can.

“Work has been ongoing, and we’re close. Our target is to launch within 30-45 days, which means Marylanders will be able to bet on the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl. We couldn’t be happier about that.”

PointsBet also receives approval

The MLGCC also approved alternative licensing standards for a PointsBet Sportsbook at the Riverboat on the Potomac. In June, the operator entered a partnership with Riverboat Group’s Riverboat on the Potomac for market access into Maryland.

The MLGCC said PointsBet is qualified as it has sports betting licenses from at least three other states with similar standards to those in Maryland.

A full licensing investigation will now take place before PointsBet is awarded a license.

Martin added: “Licensing investigations are quite extensive, so we’re continuously communicating with applicants to guide them through the process.

“Our licensing staff makes sure that applicants are aware if something is missing because we’re eager to see them submit all of the necessary information and complete all the steps so that we can find them qualified for licensing, and send the applicants to the SWARC for award.”

Still no clear timeline for mobile launch

The SWARC has yet to establish regulations and guidelines for mobile sports betting in Maryland.

Before the vote on the five land-based licenses, the Commission’s legal counsel Taft Stettinius & Hollister explained that the majority of sports betting revenue comes from mobile operations and that the 17 facilities outlined in the legislation would not be enough to gain meaningful competitive advantage over other states.

Taft Partner Cezar Froelich said they are working on a comprehensive plan to “deploy the mobile and additional Class B licenses.” 

Under the state’s legislation, more than 100 sports betting licenses are up for grabs and in addition to the 17 locations named in the state law, there can be an additional 30 Class B land-based locations.

Applications for the competitive licenses, which include the 60 mobile licenses, have yet to open.