The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission did far more listening than talking at its meeting Wednesday.
For the most part, the commission, which awards licenses to Maryland sports betting operators, heard from Kimberly Copp, an attorney with Taft, the legal adviser to the SWARC, about an informational summit held last week aimed at potential applicants for Class B retail sports gambling licenses.
Although there had been some optimistic thoughts expressed earlier this year that online Maryland sports betting could begin by the start of the 2022 NFL season, it appears far more likely that the state will not be ready to launch mobile sports betting until sometime in 2023.
A goal of the Maryland sports betting legislation is to encourage minority- and women-owned businesses to become part of the sports wagering industry in Maryland. It is an ambition other states have aspired to but, as Michael Pollock of gaming consultant Spectrum Gaming noted at the informational gathering, Maryland appears in the best position to succeed in actually doing it.
The morning-long session featured panels of sports operator experts as well as attorneys and even a banker who discussed the rigors of applying for a sports betting license and the challenges of operating such a business.
Copp noted there were about 90 attendees.
5 Retail Sportsbook Live, 4 More Waiting
So far, Maryland has five operating retail sportsbooks, all in casinos, and the Maryland Lottery & Gaming Control agency reported that there wasn’t a great deal of further news on additional operators ready to launch. It was made clear that Rocky Gap Casino in Flintstone would not be applying for its available license.
Four smaller businesses — three OTB/bar-restaurants and a bingo facility — have been awarded retail licenses but are still in preparation stages, such as construction, Lottery & Gaming reported.
Copp said her firm was working on more generic elements of an application that applicants would submit to SWARC for an online license or a competitive Class B license (eventually, they could be separate applications or a combined application). The SWARC may still have to make some policy-issue decisions yet to be determined, and members of the SWARC would be solicited for input.
April Sports Betting Handle Down
The handle at the retail sportsbooks in the five Maryland casinos was about $26.9 million in April. That was down 13.3% from about $31 million in March.
A letdown was expected in April as the sports calendar moves into its slower months. Most states have reported lower figures in April from March, which was driven by NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover, with its FanDuel Sportsbook, led the way with $13.3 million in April wagers.