Maryland has taken another step towards mobile sports betting, as the 30-day public comment period on sports betting regulations in the state has concluded. The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) will now review the comments and may implement changes to the regulations, depending on the merit of the comments.
This is a big step forward for Maryland, as it looks to join other states that have launched mobile sports betting in recent months. It plans to overtake Ohio’s January 1, 2023 launch by going live before the year ends.
The application period for Maryland mobile sportsbooks is still ongoing, but Marylanders may bet through retail locations.
Public Comments Now Up for Review
As required by law, the SWARC accepted public comments on the regulations for 30 days. The comments received varied widely in terms of quality and usefulness. Some proprietors clearly do not have an idea about the purpose of public comment as they asked for help with the licensing process.
Others just wrote about being dismayed due to the lack of online sports betting in the state.
“Why has the SWARC not moved at a faster pace? MD voters approved mobile betting in November 2020. What gives you the right to delay democracy?”
On the other hand, there are insightful comments, specifically about the provisions of SWARC’s emergency regulations. Some addressed the requirement of having, either direct or indirect interest of at least 5% from someone with a Personal Net Worth (PNW) not reaching $1.847 million
Bet365, a sportsbook operator, also has the same concern as they reached out to the Commission.
As per the legal and regulatory counsel for bet365, Robert Moncrief Jr.:
“Any limitations on what operators can participate in the industry that aren’t driven by suitability or experience considerations, run the risk of adversely impacting the tax revenue generated by the state, as well as limiting customer choice in what would otherwise be a robust and competitive industry.”
He added that having this requirement may result in applicants looking for qualified entities to join the ownership without having actual participation in the sports betting operations just to meet the ownership criteria.
Moreover, Malik Edwards of Bet on Black LLC expressed his frustrations about the vague provisions related to diversity and inclusion measures. He said that there should be increased transparency when it comes to the ownership of sportsbook operators.
In addition, Edwards also demands another disparity study focusing on the capability of the State to implement a race and gender-conscious system that can comply with the imposed regulations as he doesn’t believe that the recent study already shows a true picture of the industry.
More Maryland Sports Betting Updates
Based on the SWARC timeline, there will be at least a single meeting this October and it will be on the 19th. The Commission will discuss the public comments and implement any changes that those comments may bring to the current regulation.
Changes are expected to be published this October 21 and may be accessed through the Maryland Register. This coincides with the deadline for MD mobile sports wagering license application.
Up to 60 mobile betting licenses are available and SWARC will grant licenses on a rolling basis.