First Maryland sports betting licenses awarded to 5 casinos

Sports betting will soon be officially allowed in the state of Maryland. A commission gave the final approval on Thursday for licenses to be awarded to five casinos.

In a 5-to-2 vote, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission awarded the first Maryland in-person sports betting licenses. Those awarded include Maryland Live!, MGM National Harbor, Horseshoe Casino, Hollywood Casino and Ocean Downs Casino.

Approval isn’t final until the casinos sign a memorandum of understanding.

There are a number of procedural steps that the five casinos will need to complete before they will be able to launch their sports wagering operations.

Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff are working with the five casinos to approve their systems of internal controls, standard operating procedures, security and surveillance systems, responsible gaming plans and employee training procedures, according to Seth Elkin, Assistant Director of Communications for Public Affairs with Maryland Lottery and Gaming.

The last step in the process is a controlled demonstration, which involves live wagering under the observation of Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff.

Elkin said there’s no timeline for the completion of the activities but that the target is to be able to launch sports betting at the casinos within 30 to 45 days.

Commissioner Randy Marriner said Maryland is losing out on potential revenue as gamblers go to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and D.C.

“While they’re there, they’re spending money,” Marriner said. “I think it’s time for us to get these five done as quickly as we can get the next two, three, four.”

The five casinos were already vetted and signed off on by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency but needed final approval from the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission.

The licenses for mobile wagers are still months away.

Commission member Frank Turner voted against approval, saying he thinks there should be more time for 17 applications still in the process to advance.

“Let us all start at the same starting point for a change,” Turner said. “I would have hoped that we could have done this before the end of the year, where the other group would be part of the five licenses that we are now considering.”

Marriner said that the casinos were approved first because they didn’t have as far to go to get things ready as they already accept gambling.

“The casinos, I guess, fortunately, they are already so regulated we know who they are. That’s why they ended up here first,” he said.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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