Sports betting moving slowly in Maryland, despite Hogan’s urging

An important meeting on the future of sports betting in Maryland has been postponed, and it’s unclear when it will be rescheduled.

On Thursday, the Maryland board in charge of licenses was supposed to take up applications from the state’s three biggest casinos: Maryland Live!, MGM National Harbor, and the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore. All three venues already have licensed gaming operations in the state and familiarity with state regulators.

But then, the meeting was postponed. WTOP reached out to Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), to find out why and when it will be rescheduled. There has been no response, as of Saturday morning.

This postponement happened approximately one week after Gov. Larry Hogan urged SWARC to speed up the process.

SWARC is comprised of members appointed by the governor, as well as the leaders of the state House and Senate. The group will review the applications submitted by 30 additional brick and mortar locations, in addition to the 17 specified in the law that sets aside licenses for in-person, cash-only betting.

Up to 60 mobile betting licenses are also allotted, but that application process hasn’t opened yet. Even if those brick and mortar locations are approved, you also won’t be able to use the mobile apps associated with those venues (Bet MGM for MGM National Harbor, Caesars Sports App, which is run by Horseshoe’s parent company Caesars, and Fan Duel, which has a deal with Maryland Live!)

Those companies will have to apply separately for a mobile betting license and go through the process all over again since “they’re not tethered to the first 17,” said John Martin, the head of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA), in an interview last month. “They’re truly all internet, mobile based applications.”

In fact, it’ll be a while before mobile betting, far and away the most preferred method of sports wagering, is approved.

“We’re probably well into the first part of calendar year 2022 before we’ll even begin to look at where those potential mobile licenses may be,” said Martin.

His agency will actually grant the licenses once the applications are approved by the SWARC board. And Martin suggested whenever SWARC gives its approval, the MLGCA will move quickly to process those approvals.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The name of the head of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency and the number of licenses involved have been corrected.

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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