As expected, the Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission published a set of approved proposed regulations on Friday in the Maryland Register, completing the latest step in bringing mobile sports wagering to the state by early next year.
The regulations will govern a lengthy application process in which the SWARC will award up to 60 mobile sports wagering licenses, as well as up to 30 Class B retail licenses for sports betting operations across the state. Maryland stakeholders largely expected Friday’s publication of the regulations after SWARC approved a series of proposed regulations in mid-July.
Written comments on SWARC’s proposed regulations will be accepted over a 30-day period through Sept 26. All written comments submitted during the period will be published on the Maryland state website at Swarc.org after the 30-day public comment period has ended, the SWARC announced Friday.
No regulatory curveballs
There were few, if any, surprises in Friday’s proposed regulations, which explain the unique role the commission will undertake in awarding licenses in three classifications. SWARC will conduct a comprehensive licensing process for mobile sports wagering across the state, one that will likely be closely watched due to the explosion of online sports betting nationwide.
The purpose of this action is to propose a new subtitle, COMAR 36.11, that explains the unique role of the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) in awarding competitive Class B-1 and Class B-2 sports wagering facility licenses, and all mobile sports wagering licenses. For only these licenses, SWARC’s license award process is a preliminary step in the required process by which the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) issues all sports wagering licenses in the State.
All applicants for sports wagering licenses must apply to MLGCC, which investigates the applicant to ensure it meets “qualification” requirements, such as good character and financial stability, as provided in COMAR Title 36, Subtitle 10. For Class B-1 and Class B-2 facilities and mobile license applicants, the next step is for SWARC to consider whether “qualified” applicants are “awarded” a license. The award decision is based on the particulars of the proposed business plan and operations, and specific legal and process requirements, which are enumerated in the Sports Wagering Law.
Frustration with continued delays
Maryland’s approval process has received considerable scrutiny in recent months, amid several delays in the rollout of online sports wagering. At an Aug. 17 SWARC meeting, officials from the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency noted that mobile sports wagering might not be available throughout the state until the immediate run-up to February’s Super Bowl.
For proponents of mobile betting, the delays are somewhat vexing considering that retail sports betting launched in the state in December 2021. Interested mobile sports wagering applicants will be assessed a non-refundable fee of $500,000 for a mobile license, according to the SWARC. Technically, the regulations have not been finalized yet, since further modifications can be made as a result of the public comments, SWARC Chairman Thomas Brandt explained last week.
Maryland mobile betting launch timeline:
The SWARC doesn’t know for sure … but “it’s possible” Marylanders can bet on a mobile sportsbook by the Super Bowl.
— Bennett Conlin (@BennettConlin) August 17, 2022
Among Class B retail licenses, there are two categories. Class B-1 licenses are for businesses with 25 or more full-time employees, or those with more than $3 million in annual gross receipts. License applications in the B-1 category carry a non-refundable fee of $250,000. Class B-2 licenses are for small businesses with 24 or fewer full-time employees or less than $3 million in annual gross receipts. Those license applications require a non-refundable fee of $50,000.
Industry heavyweights FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars, and Barstool Sportsbook are currently live in Maryland at various retail sportsbook locations. The publication of the proposed regulations came one day after DraftKings qualified for a Sports Wagering Facility Operator License at a Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission hearing.