What Is the SWARC In Maryland, And What Does It Do?

As sports betting in Maryland is legal and with the launch of mobile sports betting coming soon we take a look at the Sports Wagering Wagering Application Review Commission and its role in Maryland sports betting.

The Maryland SWARC is a commission that was established when sports betting was legalized in Maryland. The commission has been a key component in bringing sports betting to the state. 

Sports betting was legalized in Maryland in 2020 with the first bet being placed in 2021. When the sports wagering law was created it authorized the SWARC to review and help award licenses. The SWARC was officially authorized by the General Assembly in May 2021. 

Every retail and mobile sportsbook has to go through SWARC before it can earn a license. 

For entities to be awarded a Maryland sports betting license, they must go through Maryland Lottery and Gaming (MLG) and the SWARC. 

Who Makes Up the SWARC?

There are seven members that make up the SWARC. The member breakdown includes two appointed by the President of the Maryland Senate, two appointed by the governor of Maryland, two appointed by the Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, and the Chair of MLGCC. 

Current members:

  • Thomas Brandt Jr., Chair 
  • Rosie Allen-Herring
  • Laura Gamble
  • Bert Hash, Jr. 
  • E. Randolph Marriner
  • Cassandra Stevenson
  • Frank Turner

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What Does the SWARC do?

SWARC’s main task is to determine whether an applicant should be awarded a sports wagering license by reviewing all applications that come into the eLicensing system. 

The commission awards Class A and B facility licenses. Class A licenses go to large facilities and major sports franchises while Class B licenses go to certain horse-racing facilities, commercial bingo, and simulcast betting entities. 

There can be up to 30 retail and 60 mobile sports wagering licenses other than the 17 locations specified in the law. 

The SWARC and MLG work together to ensure that each applicant is suitable for a sports wagering license, but they are different entities. The SWARC determines whether it’s in the public interest to award a license to the licensee while MLG must conduct criminal and financial background checks after SWARC determines if an applicant should be awarded a license. 

Another role of the commission was to submit proposed regulations to govern the application process that was approved by the Maryland General Assembly’s Joint committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review. 

An important aspect of SWARC is to ensure racial, ethnic, and gender diversity. SWARC is also working to ensure that each licensee has a Diversity Plan. That includes plans to obtain a diverse group of owners, employees, and investors as well as diversity objectives, diversity-related outreach and events, and proposed timelines to achieve these things.

They created the Sports Wagering Assistance Fund to help fund some of the costs for minority-owned businesses to get into the sports betting industry. 

As the launch of mobile sports betting is on the horizon, the SWARC is busy working to award mobile licenses as they try to get mobile betting launched before the end of the year.

AP Photo/Steve Helber

About the Author

Kayleigh Toney

Kayleigh Toney is a Virginia-based freelance sports writer at Maryland Sharp. She’s an avid NWSL and USWNT fan and a lifelong Virginia Tech Hokie.