Maryland sports betting rules now open for public debate

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The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission officially published its sports betting rules in the state register and have opened a 30-day public comment and review period, a necessary step towards issuing sports betting licenses.  

The public has 30-days to review and comment on the 227-pages of proposed sports betting rules.  The public can attend an open hearing on the rules on Wednesday, Sept. 22. At the end of the public comment period the rules can be officially approved by the gaming control commission and the issuance of sports betting licenses can begin.

It appears as if Maryland is finally inching towards a launch of its sports betting program, which has been months in the works. The first round of licenses will be awarded to entities originally included in the approved sports betting bill. When licenses are issued in-person sports betting should begin fairly quickly.

However, the timeline for the opening of the online sports betting license application process has not yet been determined, an MLGCA spokesperson recently told Saturday Tradition.

The application process for online sports betting licenses will be competitive, the MLGCA spokesperson told Saturday Tradition, and without a set application procedure from the Sports Wagering Application Review Committee (SWARC) it’s hard to set a timeline on when licenses will be awarded. The 12-to-24 month estimate could be accelerated in the future when the application procedure is determined, the spokesperson noted.

The role of SWARC is to establish the license application process, award all sports wagering licenses, establish special considerations for Class B and online sports betting licenses and ensure the allocation of licenses are spread equitably across the state. SWARC has yet to set a timeline or process for sportsbook operators to apply for online sports betting licenses.

Online sports betting may be months down the road

An FAQ section on the MLGCA website sheds some light on the potential online sports betting license process, as the agency said the issuance of licenses (including online licenses) for entities not listed in the original sports bill may take between 12 to 24 months:

“Some of the entities named in the Sports Wagering Law may have their brick-and-mortar sports wagering operations up and running during the fall of 2021. For a business that is not named in the Sports Wagering Law, the review by SWARC and a licensing background investigation could take between 12 and 24 months from May 2021.”

Here are the 17 entities listed in the Maryland sports betting bill:

Casino Licenses

  • Horseshoe Casino (A-1 License)
  • Live! Casino (A-1 License)
  • MGM (A-1 License)
  • Hollywood Casino (A-2 License)
  • Ocean Downs Casino (A-2 License)
  • Rocky Gap Casino Resort (A-2 License)

Professional Sports Stadium Licenses

  • Oriole Park (A-1 License)
  • M&T Bank Field (A-1 License)
  • FedEx Field (A-1 License)

Racetrack Licenses

  • Laurel Park and Pimlico Park  (One A-2 License between them)

OTB Locations

  • Greenmount Station (B License)
  • The Jockey Bar and Grille (B License)
  • Long Shot’s (B License)
  • Riverboat on the Potomac (B License)
  • Maryland State Fairgrounds (B License)

Commercial Bingo Halls (with at least 200 machines)

  • Bingo World
  • Rod ‘N’ Reel

60 potential online sports betting licenses

The state will allow 60 mobile sports betting licenses in its program. It qualifies remaining licenses into two classes; A licenses and B licenses. A license will be the state’s larger casinos, horse racetracks and professional sports teams and each license class with have two separate tiers.

A Class A-1 license includes the three largest casinos in the state, the state’s three professional sports organizations and the jockey club. The Class A-2 licenses will include the state casinos with fewer than 1,000 slot machines; the Class B-1 licenses will include organizations with more than 25 employees and the class B-2 license will include organizations with fewer than 25 employees and less than $3 million in gross receipts.

A Class A-1 license will cost $2 million to acquire and $500,000 in renewals; A Class A-2 license will cost $1 million to acquire and $300,000 to renew; A class B-1 license will cost $250,000 to acquire and $50,000 to renew; A class B-2 license will cost $50,000 and $10,000 in renewals. An application fee for an online sports betting license is $500,000.