The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA) denies the extension for the sports betting license application deadline, which is consistent with the planned launch of Maryland sports betting by the end of the year. However, hopes are not lost as the SWARC “may” open if the maximum number of licenses was not awarded.
Application Deadline Will Not Budge
There are 60 available licenses for MD online sportsbooks while 30 are up for grabs for Class B facilities that will offer retail wagering. While some analysts previously suggested that operators who have been historically screened by the regulators would have an accelerated application process, This was unverified by the agency.
During the public comment meeting held in Baltimore, one of the topics that have been discussed was the flexibility of the October 21 application deadline.
As a response, the Chief of staff and assistant deputy director of MLGCA, James Butler stated that the extension of the deadline is not possible and “the establishment of any additional application is at SWARC’s discretion and will require approval of the SWARC members.”
While there is a possibility that the SWARC will reopen the application process if it doesn’t award all the available licenses, Butler added that the Commission “may, but is not required to create additional license application windows for any portion of the remaining mobile or Class B Facility licenses”.
This may not be certain, but hopes are still up for those who are unable to submit before the firm deadline.
Application Fees Still A Concern
Another concern raised in the public meeting was the nonrefundable application fees. While this may not be a problem for large proprietors, small businesses’ financial status could be significantly affected if the application was not granted.
Aspiring mobile operators should pay a $500,000 application fee while Class B operators are required to pay $250,000. Smaller Class B-2 locations have a much lower cost of application – $50,000 – but are still a significant investment for a business and being nonrefundable brings so much risk.
The Future of Maryland Sports Betting
National Football League is already on its regular season which boosted sports betting numbers, while NBA regular season will follow on October 18 and Maryland regulators don’t want to miss the additional revenues which could be derived from the coming events.
Retail sportsbooks have been operating but the addition of online sports wagering is expected to boost the industry, just like what happened to other states like New York which almost reach a $1.7 billion handle after launching online sportsbooks.
While rejecting the deadline extension provides optimism about the earlier launch, especially for operators with financial capability and enough resources, financial concerns for small business is still something to be addressed.