Further progress has been made towards the launch of Maryland online sports betting, with the Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (“SWARC”) meeting in Baltimore to gather and discuss opinions on the latest proposed legislation pre-launch.

The meeting was the last opportunity for businesses and industry stakeholders to make in-person queries around the published legislation, with written questions still permitted until September 26th. The meeting was moderated by Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency‘s chief of staff and assistant deputy director James Butler, and he indicated that a number of questions received by the regulator were in regards to flexibility on the 21st October application deadline.

Maryland Sports Betting Deadline

His response was staunch in that there is no space for the deadline to move, saying the deadline is firm and adding “The establishment of any additional application is at SWARC’s discretion and will require approval of the SWARC members”.

The application tender process opened by Maryland suggested 60 online sports betting licenses were up for grabs, with 30 for Class B facilities who wish to offer sports betting on premises. Previously, analysts have suggested that those operators who have historically been vetted by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency would potentially receive benefits in an accelerated application process, although this remains unverified by the regulator.

Butler also said: “If SWARC does not award the maximum number of licenses, SWARC may, but is not required to create additional license application windows for any portion of the remaining mobile or Class B Facility licenses”. Thus, hope for those unable to meet the deadline is not completely lost.

MD Sports Betting License Application

One priority area of concern, other than the deadline date, is the cost of the application process. The cost of an application for a mobile license stands at $500k, with it reducing to $250k for Class B and $50k for smaller Class B-2 premises. This fee is completely non-refundable should a license not be granted, which many would argue prices small businesses out of the application – given the hefty sum to not be refunded should an application be unsuccessful.

With the application process set to shut on October 21st, there’s hope amongst applicants that online sports betting will be launched before the close of the year, albeit ambitious. With the NFL now back underway and the NBA to follow shortly, the forthcoming half year is undoubtedly the most important for gross gaming revenue and contribution to the state.

The regulator’s stubborn attitude towards moving the deadline date will provide optimism amongst operators with the financial firepower and resource to meet the deadlines, but concerns for smaller business will remain.