Maryland gaming officials have come up with a way to bring online sports wagering to the state sooner rather than later.
The deadline to apply for a Maryland in-person or mobile sportsbook license is Oct. 21. At its monthly meeting on Thursday, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission approved a plan to award mobile sportsbook licenses on a rolling basis, rather than establishing a universal award date.
The plan involves streamlining the applications of entities that are already licensed for in-person sports wagering in Maryland.
“We expect that a number of potential applicants have already been licensed by Lottery and Gaming and will be eligible for an alternative licensing process,” said James Nielsen with the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission. “Lottery and Gaming will not do full investigations on these entities at this time.”
Nielsen told SWARC members that as long as they do not exceed the limit of 60 applicants for mobile licenses, SWARC can streamline the process for licensing those pre-qualified applicants, once the application window has closed.
“We all know that the public was clamoring to get sports betting. We get comments about why it hasn’t launched yet every day,” Nielsen said.
The pre-qualified awardees will still have to complete their operational requirements, internal controls, responsible gaming control demonstrations and meet other requirements to obtain their in-person sportsbook licenses.
“And then, they could be issued a license by Lottery and Gaming in very short order,” Nielsen said.
He noted, too, that awarding licenses on a rolling basis instead of on a universal award date will avoid bottlenecks in the process.
“A single applicant who struggles with their licensing submission … could hold up the entire industry from starting,” Nielsen said.
Five of Maryland’s six casinos offer in-person sportsbook. In addition to the potential 60 mobile sportsbook licenses, SWARC will also award up to 30 additional in-person sportsbook licenses. SWARC members expressed doubt they would exceed those limits.
When the application window closes next month, SWARC will have 45 days to review all the applications.