“I am confident that there will be mobile wagering in the state of Maryland in 2022,” Martin said Tuesday morning during a VIXIO GamblingCompliance webinar.
That’s not breaking news, as members of the Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission have shared similar expectations. Martin did, however, lend some additional insight into the timeline for a mobile sports betting launch in the state.
The application for mobile licenses ends on Oct. 21. After that, Martin believes the lottery will give the SWARC a list of qualified applicants (based on background check information) on Oct 27.
Expect operators like Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, BetRivers, Caesars Sportsbook, FanDuel, and PointsBet to be among those initially qualified, as they’ve already passed the background checks needed to launch retail sportsbooks in the state.
After the lottery gives the SWARC a list of qualified applicants, the SWARC will work on awarding mobile licenses. After the SWARC awards licenses, lottery staff will perform final regulatory checks. Once those are complete, a mobile sportsbook operator can launch its platform in Maryland.
Maryland online sports betting (rough) timeline:
1. Qualified licensees announced by end of Oct.
2. Individual approvals sometime in Nov.
3. Final tech, other testing signoffs a few weeks after
4. Rolling launch begins; first books live by Nov. or Dec.
— Ryan Butler (@ButlerBets) October 4, 2022
“It’s our hope that if SWARC can [award licenses] in early November, we may be in the business by the end of November,” Martin said. “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.”
At the very least, Martin expects mobile sportsbooks to be operational in Maryland before 2023. A November launch seems doable if the SWARC moves quickly to award licenses. That seemingly shouldn’t be an issue, given the number of well-known operators likely to apply for mobile licenses.
Not thrilled with delays
Martin was professional on the webinar, but it would be understandable if the delayed mobile sports betting launch has frustrated the lottery director. Maryland voters passed sports betting legislation in November of 2020, yet mobile sportsbooks aren’t yet live in the state.
Martin brought up state legislation requiring both the SWARC and lottery to be involved in the launch of mobile sportsbooks as a reason for a delayed a launch.
“That certainly challenged our timeline from the get-go,” Martin said.
A mandated industry analysis related to race and gender-conscious measures also added to delays.
“It was almost 12 months between the date the study was requested and when the report was finally issued,” Martin said. “While it was a necessary element, there certainly was a significant amount of time we lost in that process.”
Martin called that delay “a surprise,” and there has been minimal explanation from the SWARC as to why the industry analysis took so long.
“The reality is we need to get this done,” Martin said. “We need to fulfill the mandate from the voters who elected by a 2-1 majority in the referendum in November of 2020 that they wanted sports wagering here in the state of Maryland. And for many people, it’s long overdue, and I understand their frustration.”