Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission took a step toward launching legal mobile sports betting Wednesday morning, approving proposed mobile sports wagering regulations and applications.
Proposed regulations and applications related to competitive retail facility sports betting licenses were also approved by the SWARC.
The commissioners spent minimal time discussing the proposed regulations and applications during Wednesday’s meeting, as materials were reviewed by commissioners prior to the session. This led to a quick and productive gathering for the SWARC, as the group hopes to launch mobile betting in the coming months.
Regulation and application details
Among the more notable application details for prospective applicants is the financial commitment to receive a mobile betting license.
There’s a $500,000 licensing fee associated with applying for and receiving a mobile sports betting license in Maryland. The hefty financial burden will likely keep some smaller businesses from entering the state’s mobile sports betting market, unless they partner with a major operator.
The fees for retail licenses are smaller, with a $250,000 fee for Class B-1 licenses and a $50,000 fee for Class B-2 licenses. B-1 licenses go to businesses with 25 or more full-time employees and more than $3 million worth of annual gross receipts, while B-2 licenses can go to businesses with less than 25 full-time employees and annual gross receipts of less than $3 million. Hence, a retail sports betting operation may make more sense for several of Maryland’s small businesses.
The SWARC approves proposed regulations and application materials. A step toward a mobile sports wagering launch in Maryland.
Worth noting the SWARC canceled its July 20 meeting. The group next meets on Aug. 17, but could call an emergency meeting earlier. https://t.co/3K16XTCZCD
— Bennett Conlin (@BennettConlin) July 13, 2022
Up to 60 mobile sports betting licenses are available in Maryland, while 30 competitive retail licenses are there for the taking. Information relating to the specifics of the regulations, mobile sports betting license applications, and sports wagering facility license applications were posted on the SWARC’s website.
It’s worth noting that a disparity study related to gender and race-conscious measures has yet to be completed. The conclusion of that study, which SWARC members also refer to as an industry analysis, could impact the regulations and applications discussed Wednesday.
“When that process is completed and we have considered that input, there may be changes to the regulations and applications,” SWARC Chairman Thomas Brandt said.
So why did the SWARC work to approve proposed regulations and applications now, knowing changes are likely coming? That’s largely because the SWARC is hoping to hasten the launch of mobile sportsbooks in the state, especially after recent pressure from Gov. Larry Hogan.
The regulations head to the Maryland Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review, which will review the materials for “emergency approval.” Once given approval and submitted to the Maryland Register as proposed regulations, there will be a 30-day public comment period, giving stakeholders a chance to share opinions on the regulations, which could lead to additional changes.
Given Wednesday’s approval of proposed regulations and applications, applicants now have an idea of what’s going to be asked of them, even if some minor changes are ultimately made.
“Once the emergency SWARC regulations become effective and the industry analysis is completed, SWARC can set a date when formal applications and fees may be submitted,” Brandt said. “Then we’ll be in a position to set a timeline for additional actions.”
The SWARC canceled its July 20 meeting, instead opting to meet next on Aug. 17. The group could meet again sooner, if needed.
There’s hope that the legislative committee will have made a decision on emergency regulations by mid-August, and that there could be an update on the industry analysis. This could pave the way for the SWARC to open up applications for mobile sports betting licenses, as the industry analysis must be completed before the SWARC can legally open applications.
Gov. Hogan called for legal mobile sportsbooks to launch in Maryland by Week 1 of the NFL season, and the first game of the 2022 season is scheduled for Sept. 8. With the SWARC’s next meeting in mid-August, not to mention the attendant time crunch for sportsbooks to go live before Week 1, a Sept. 8 deadline feels optimistic.