The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission met Thursday, providing an update on the timeline for the upcoming launch of legal mobile sports betting in the state. A late November launch of mobile sportsbooks seems like the earliest possible time frame, and there’s a chance those sportsbooks don’t go live until December.
SWARC and Maryland Lottery staff shared Wednesday that 10 applications have been submitted for mobile sports betting licenses. Entities hoping to receive a mobile license need to apply by Friday evening, when the window for application submissions closes.
“I would expect a few more to come in, based on conversations in the industry,” said Kimberly Copp, a lawyer with Taft, a law firm helping the SWARC throughout the process.
What still has to happen before launch
Once the application window closes on Friday, the Maryland Lottery and SWARC will review applications. On Oct. 27, the lottery will hold qualification hearings for mobile applicants.
There’s a bit of a delay after that, as Taft and SWARC commissioners will thoroughly review applications. The group won’t meet again until Nov. 21, although they left open a possibility of meeting on Nov. 16 if they complete work earlier than expected.
A Nov. 21 meeting date for the SWARC is somewhat interesting, as the group determined that it needs nearly a full month to review the initial batch of 10 or so mobile sports wagering applications. Sportsbook operators like Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, and FanDuel have a national mobile presence, and those operators all have retail sportsbooks in Maryland. Those entities have previously been vetted in some capacity by the SWARC and lottery in order to operate the retail sportsbooks, which theoretically could’ve led to a speedy approval of their mobile licenses.
Regardless, at the Nov. 21 meeting, the SWARC will discuss the applicants the lottery deemed qualified at the Oct. 27 meeting. Mobile licenses will likely be awarded at the Nov. 21 SWARC meeting.
Maryland mobile sports betting launch timeline:
Oct. 21 – Mobile license application window closes
Oct. 27 – Lottery conducts qualification hearing for mobile applicants
Nov. 21 – SWARC meets to discuss qualified applicants
Late Nov/early Dec – a mobile launch
— Bennett Conlin (@BennettConlin) October 19, 2022
The lottery conducts final technical checks following the SWARC’s awarding of licenses. Once those checks are complete, a mobile sportsbook is allowed to launch. The final stage shouldn’t take too long, clearing the way for legal mobile betting platforms to go live in Maryland in late November or early December.
Public comment discussion
At the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting, the SWARC commissioners discussed public comments recently submitted on the group’s sports betting regulations. The SWARC didn’t opt to make substantial changes to the regulations, as a few of the public comment suggestions would’ve required the SWARC to step outside of its purview.
“The comments that were received in some cases are great, they’re aspirational,” said Cezar Froelich, a lawyer with Taft. “The difficulty is they aren’t permitted under the statute to be complied with, or in certain cases while they are probably socially a good thing to do, they can’t be complied with because of the U.S. Constitution or the constitution of the state of Maryland. So we’re a little bit hamstrung on some of the suggestions, which were great suggestions — it’s just that the law doesn’t permit them.”