Maryland sports betting still on hold following latest meeting

The state of Maryland will have to wait at least another two weeks before sports betting makes more progress.

During a meeting on Wednesday, the Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) acknowledged the status of five casino applications for land-based sports betting in the state.

The commission then held a closed session for more than two hours. From there the commission voted to request supplemental ownership information from the casinos. 

It was also decided that 18 November would be the next meeting date where they will vote on the licenses.

Casinos being considered

Prior to this week’s meeting, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission approved five casino licenses for “alternative licensing standards.”

The five venues hold Maryland casino licenses and the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency have been vetted.

Once the SWARC awards licenses, the land-based sportsbooks will need to receive final systems approval from the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.

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

At the SWARC’s first meeting in August, the commission approved 17 entities named in the state’s sports betting legislation. This includes:

  • MGM National Harbor
  • Live! Casino & Hotel 
  • Horseshoe Casino
  • M&T Bank Stadium
  • Oriole Park at Camden Yards
  • FedEx Field
  • Ocean Downs Casino
  • Hollywood Casino
  • Rocky Gap Casino
  • Laurel Park Race Track and Pimlico Race Track
  • Maryland State Fairgrounds
  • Bingo World
  • Rod-n-Reel
  • Jockey Bar and Grill
  • Greenmount Station
  • Long Shot’s 
  • Riverboat on the Potomac

Maryland Governor frustrated at the decision

Hours after Wednesday’s meeting, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan voiced his frustration at the SWARC’s decision to postpone approving licenses.

According to Maryland Matters, Logan told the media “It’s a problem, and I’m sure they’re all going to be sued by all the people whose licenses have already been approved” by the lottery and gaming commission.

“If in fact they don’t act immediately and approve [the five casinos] … it’s going to be at least a year or more before anyone gets the ability to do gambling in Maryland. And potentially it could kill the entire deal.”

It is unclear why Hogan thinks the delay to sports betting could be “at least a year” but it does appear unlikely that sports betting in Maryland will launch this year. This comes after Lottery officials said they were aiming for a late fall launch back in September.

On Thursday, Maryland Lottery officials said they’re aiming to launch betting for late January or the 2022 Super Bowl, but did not specify if this would be for land-based betting or online.

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.

Sports betting in Maryland

Maryland voters approved sports betting via a referendum back in November 2020.

Lawmakers worked quickly to create sports betting legislation earlier this year and the state’s governor went on to sign the legislation into law in May. The state hoped to have the sportsbooks operational during the NFL season and by the MLB World Series.
Regulations for sports betting were approved by the MLGC in July, and were then published in August. The state regulator then opened the licensing process for sportsbooks in September.