Maryland Governor Demands Online Sports Betting by NFL Season Amid Prolonged Delay
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Out of every state to approve online sports betting since 2018, Maryland has taken the longest to launch. Gov. Larry Hogan is sick and tired of waiting.
In a letter sent to regulators ahead of a Thursday meeting, Hogan urged swift action so online sportsbooks can be available to the public before the NFL season kicks off in September.
“I write to you today to urge the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission to act immediately so that mobile sports wagering can begin in the State of Maryland before the start of the National Football League (NFL) regular season on September 8, 2022,” Hogan said in the letter sent Tuesday. “To make that target date achievable, it is imperative that you immediately accelerate and intensify your efforts.”
It’s been nearly two years since Maryland voters approved sports betting at the ballot box. Since then, four states (Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Wyoming) have legalized and launched online sports betting markets of their own. Meanwhile, the SWARC has continually pushed back Maryland’s timeline.
Those aforementioned states have profited a combined $26 million off sports betting, while Maryland has amassed only $2.6 million in taxes from in-person betting. That’s about $28 million short of what’s projected annually once Maryland goes online.
In jurisdictions where online and in-person betting are available, online makes up 80%-90% of total bets, according to the American Gaming Association, the industry lobby.
‘Bureaucratic Hurdles and Legal Obstacles’
The SWARC is still waiting on a disparity study from the state Attorney General’s Office, which Maryland’s sports betting law tasked with identifying legal opportunities within the space for businesses owned by women and people of color.
“I realize that this ongoing delay is the byproduct of an overly complex piece of legislation that was skewed to appease special interest groups and organizations,” Hogan said. “The rest of the holdup lies with bureaucratic hurdles and legal obstacles placed by the Office of the Attorney General.”
The SWARC has approved retail sports betting at five Maryland casinos, but hasn’t given any updates on the study — the last hurdle before rules and applications can be issued.
The most recent launch update came from Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin, who said he’s hoping the state can launch by the Super Bowl. He and his colleagues say they are ready to implement rules and applications once the SWARC and AG’s office hand them the baton.
Steps to Launch by NFL Season
Hogan reiterated the importance of launching by NFL season, which is one of the most profitable times of the year for sportsbooks — and, in turn, state coffers. He outlined several steps he wants regulators to take so Maryland launches by Sept. 8.
- Prioritize mobile licenses for operators with existing retail licenses, including FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars and Barstool
- Share a “firm and transparent timeline for mobile sports wagering” by this week’s meeting on Thursday.
- Release drafts of applications and regulations immediately following the meeting so the industry can start prepping for their release
- Expedite issuing mobile licenses by quickly approving Maryland Lottery and Gaming qualification standards
- Approve mobile licenses on a rolling “first come, first served” basis