After months of being stuck on “pause,” Maryland sports betting jarred loose and made modest progress this week when the state qualified five sportsbooks and their partners for a “fast lane” to obtaining retail operator licenses.
However, in a bit of a surprise, the state did not grant licenses to those operators, all of which had been qualified in October.
On Nov. 4, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCA) approved “alternative licensing standards” for the five retail sports licenses because they have prior track records in several other states, but the state must still perform duties to fully license them, which could take at least another 3-4 weeks.
The five sportsbooks (and their partner casinos) that qualified for “alternative licensing standards” are:
- FanDuel (Live! Casino and Hotel)
- Caesars Sportsbook (Horseshoe Baltimore)
- BetMGM (MGM National Harbor)
- TwinSpires (Ocean Downs)
- Barstool (Hollywood Casino Perryville)
The State of Maryland will now perform background investigations on the five sportsbooks in anticipation of their approval for retail sports betting licenses. Maryland legalized sports betting more than six months ago, but the pandemic and legislative gridlock have slowed the regulatory process. Under the law, 17 sites can operate retail sportsbooks.
What Next for Maryland Sports Betting?
On Nov. 3, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) recommended that the five retail sportsbooks be advanced through the pipeline with a goal of granting licenses in November.
Each retail location qualified for licenses last month, but the MLGCA committee on Thursday surprised many by not awarding them licenses, instead announcing they would be vetted.
No date was set for the next meeting of either the SWARC or the MLGCA.