Sports Betting in Maryland Faces Huge Delay

Maryland State Seal And Flag With Sports Betting
It has been a hard couple of weeks for Maryland sports fans. The early part of the MLB season has not been going well for the Orioles. Last week, the Ravens traded star WR Hollywood Brown to the Cardinals. Sports fans heard more bad news this week as the state’s mobile betting operators face more delays.

Pro football is the most popular sport in the Old Line State. The start of the NFL season is still four months away. However, regulators are running out of time to get mobile betting online before the season starts. The most recent set of delays has many pundits concerned that online sports betting will not launch before the season. Online sportsbooks have been crucial to the success of sports betting in other states.

The most recent delays are not due to a lack of trying. Many prospective operators have applied for online sports betting licenses. However, according to the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), the applicants do not fully understand the industry. SWARC is taking steps to correct that issue.

Maryland Mobile Sports Betting Laws

In 2020, Maryland voted to legalize sports betting. Unlike other states, Maryland legalized both retail and electronic sportsbooks in one fell swoop. Retail sportsbooks are already up and running in the state. However, no mobile sportsbooks have been allowed to launch yet.

Retail gaming operators can purchase a mobile sports betting license for $3 million. However, minority-owned small businesses could qualify for a significantly reduced rate. A qualified business could get a license for just $50,000. These licensed small businesses would then partner with larger sportsbooks to run the operation.

The larger sportsbook that a small business partners with would have to pay $500,000 in state licensing fees. SWARC has prevented retail sportsbooks from launching so that they do not get an unfair market advantage. If the small businesses are not ready to go, then no online sportsbook can launch. For now, bettors will have to rely on retail sports betting options.

Why Mobile Sports Betting Is Being Delayed

In theory, retail sportsbook could launch their mobile sportsbooks now. However, SWARC is preventing any electron sportsbooks until the small business operators are ready to go. According to SWARC, they are concerned about small operators not understanding the sports betting industry.

To combat that problem, SWARC is hosting an informational meeting today. Prospective sports betting operators can attend the meeting to learn how Maryland sportsbooks will work. Topics such as industry regulations and operating costs are at the top of the list. SWARC will also review the licensing process for small businesses at the meeting.

SWARC will also be advising small businesses on how they can improve their sports betting license applications. Better applicants are more likely to be approved for licenses. Once the small business operators are up to speed, SWARC will hopefully allow online sports betting to launch. SWARC is also tasked with ensuring all sportsbook operators meet Maryland’s minority stipulations.

Delays Could Cause Big Issues in the Fall

Mobile sports betting was legalized over a year ago in Maryland. However, SWARC is delaying the launch of online sports betting until both large and small operators are ready to go. Operators have already missed out on a full season of online NFL wagering.

The NFL is the most popular sport in the US. Maryland currently has stadiums for two NFL teams, the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Commanders. When mobile sports betting launches, it should greatly increase the betting handle in Maryland. Other states, such as New York, have seen huge booms following the launch of online sports betting.

SWARC’s delay of the mobile sportsbooks could continue into the NFL regular season. If that happens, sportsbooks could miss out on crucial NFL betting revenue. Some estimates have the start of mobile betting six months or more away. That would mean missing out on almost another full season of NFL betting revenue.  The delays also make it more difficult for Maryland residents to place wagers.

Conclusion

Maryland legalized sports betting in the fall of 2020. Unfortunately, only retail sportsbooks have been able to start operating in the Old Line State. Electronic sportsbooks are legal, but they have not been allowed to start operations as of yet. The longer the delays last, the more sports betting revenue operators, and the state, misses out on.

SWARC has been placed in charge of managing Maryland’s sports betting licenses. The regulator is waiting to launch mobile betting until smaller operators are prepared to compete with retail sportsbooks. To speed up the process, SWARC is hosting an informational seminar today to educate small business owners about sports betting.