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Mobile sports betting won't launch in Maryland for months, despite prodding by Hogan

Mobile sports betting won't launch in Maryland for months, despite prodding by Hogan
Mobile sports betting won't launch in Maryland for months, despite prodding by Hogan 02:18

BALTIMORE -- Sports fans in Maryland likely won't see mobile sports betting for months, based on the Sports Wagering and Application Review Commission's timeline for approval.

The legislative panel, known as SWARC, provides final approval for licenses in Maryland. The panel laid out what needs to happen before mobile betting can be approved in a meeting Wednesday. Chances appear slim that approval would come by the end of the year. 

Gov. Larry Hogan has not been shy about his frustrations with the mobile sports betting delay in Maryland. In June he called on the committee to grant final approval by NFL regular season in September.

"Staff hopes Marylanders can bet on the Super Bowl on a mobile platform," Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency COO Jim Nielsen said in the meeting.    

Robert Linnehan is a sports betting regulation expert and editor at XLMedia, and says Maryland has had the slowest launch of online sports betting of any state.

 "This process has been delayed in Maryland many times," Linnehan said. "They definitely stressed this was a timeline could be changed."  

There are several hurdles before final approval. The committee is still waiting on a required sports wagering industry analysis, which the panel needs to review. A legislative committee then needs to approve its regulations.

Once regulations are approved, a 45-day window will open for online betting applicants to submit license applications. SWARC gave itself 45 days to review those applications. 

There are factors in the timeline that go beyond the commission's control, such as the number of applicants and the complexity of organizations applying. 

It's still possible mobile sports betting could be approved before the end of the year, but it's all dependent on how soon that required analysis is submitted and reviewed. 

Hogan in June called on the committee to prioritize mobile betting licenses and establish a "firm and transparent timeline" for residents to follow.

"By having this long delay for online sports betting, they are missing out on a lot of tax revenue," Linnehan said. 

Marylanders voted to approve sports betting in November 2020, and the first five sportsbooks opened in the state in December 2021.

Bettors can go to six venues in the state and place in-person wagers, the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Live! Casino in Hanover, the Horseshoe Baltimore, Ocean Downs Casino in Berlin, Bingo World in Brooklyn Park, and the Hollywood Casino Perryville.

Sports bets at those casinos have contributed over $5 million to the state's coffers this fiscal year, according to figures by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. But Linnehan said an overwhelming sum of that revenue will come from those using their phones.

"You get about 90 percent of your tax revenue from online sports betting," he said. "That's where the vast majority of people place their bets."

SWARC can award up to 30 Class B facility licenses and up to 60 mobile licenses, the gaming commission said.

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