Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) met on Thursday to update the state’s mobile sports betting status. The meeting was previously scheduled but came two days after Gov. Larry Hogan called to have online betting launched by NFL kickoff on Sept. 8.
After a fiery letter released by Gov. Hogan on June 14 stated that Maryland is losing millions of dollars in economic investment and education funding because of the mobile wagering delay, SWARC Chair Tom Brandt addressed the criticism at the outset.
“I understand that many are frustrated that the process relating to the issuance of Maryland’s mobile sports wagering licenses has been time-consuming,” Brandt said. “I also want everyone to know that SWARC and its support team have been operating as diligently and deliberately as we can under the Maryland sports wagering law that we’re tasked to administer.”
The law requires SWARC to evaluate a study of the sports wagering industry and market to determine whether there’s a compelling interest to implement remedial measures to assist minorities and women in the sports wagering industry.
Brandt says that these unique circumstances that aren’t faced by many other states require a lot of time, consideration of study outcomes, and legal analysis and advice to the Commission.
The Chair reiterated that SWARC is working as diligently as possible and has been conducting evaluation studies and working on preliminary regulations and application drafts.
Access to E-Licensing System To Be Allowed to Applicants Starting Friday
During the meeting, Maryland Lottery and Gaming official (MLG) Jim Nielson acknowledged the convoluted nature of the application process could be daunting, time-consuming, and expensive for prospective operators. He said that applicant access to the MLG’s e-licensing system will create a smoother process with less financial risk for new and inexperienced applicants.
The process will be beneficial for small businesses, allowing them a transparent look at requirements and regulations for a relatively small application fee of $2,000 – $5,200, rather than the $500,000 mobile license fee or $50,000 retail fee. If they choose not to move forward with the application after starting the process, they will be able to receive a partial refund.
Neilson went on to say that the regulations and application process can be difficult to understand even for those behind the scenes, so he understands how intimidating it can be for those applying for the first time.
He said that staff will be there to help answer questions every step of the way and that applicants can save the application online and complete it over time.
“We’re doing our best to make sure this is painless as possible but helps them as much as we can,” he said.
The application process for potential operators is a lengthy two-part process that includes approval from both the MLG as well as SWARC. Because of this, Nielson urged small businesses to get started on the e-licensing process as soon as possible.
More Operators on the Way?
Aside from the state’s current five casinos that allow in-person sports betting, the MLG said that several more are in progress. MLG official John Mooney said that Long Shot’s, Riverboat, and Bingo World are in different stages of working with officials on their internal controls. Two others are currently receiving background investigations, and three more are working through their applications for e-licensing.
Mooney also revealed that next week the MLG would be presenting a facility operator for approval.
SWARC announced another special public meeting to take place in two weeks.