The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) met last week to discuss and vote on a proposed diversity plan. The unanimous decision will require sports betting operators who obtain a mobile wagering license in the state to implement a diversity plan that includes minority- and women-owned businesses.

This new measure is an effort to promote diversity and inclusion in the MD sports betting industry. The decision was made last Friday.

SWARC Approves Policy Amendment

According to the recently approved policy amendment, companies who have been granted a sports betting license in the Old Line State should submit a diversity plan to the Commission, within 30 days after the license was awarded.

It also require license holders to agree about meeting the diversity objectives, reporting diversity metrics to regulators, and give the public access to its diversity plan.

“The regulations approved, today, by AELR that require sports wagering licensee applicants to seek out minority investors, to use the State’s nationally recognized minority business enterprise program in contracting, and submit a substantive diversity plan will help achieve that goal. We are confident that these measures will ensure meaningful minority participation in this new industry,” Baltimore representatives said.

The addendum stated that the commission will “consider any type of diverse group” as long as the applicant will prove that the persons included have been disadvantaged and its initiative to help such individual/s will contribute to the objective of the law.

The regulators want to ensure that issues with awarding of licenses will be avoided. As you may remember, there has been an issue about the medical cannabis licenses five years ago, this is because of the noticeable domination of white-owned businesses in terms of obtaining such.

This move also seeks to empower other businesses to compete against gaming titans like FanDuel and DraftKings.

“Once these small businesses become either licensed, certified, or registered with the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission, it provides them with the opportunity to offer their goods and services to other sport wagering facility licensees and operators and mobile sports wagering licensees.”

What will happen to deficient diversity plans?

Assistant Attorney General David Stamper stated that cancelation of the license is not available for those who have deficient diversity plans as the licenses are already awarded.

However, the Managing Director of Organizational Compliance of Lottery & Gaming Control Agency, James Butler, stated that the agency will work hand in hand with the commission to “take any corrective action plans” that will help applications meet the required standards.

Moreover, this move by the SWARC, to promote inclusion as part of the sports betting licensing process, delighted Del. Darryl Barnes, the chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland. The state remains to be one of the country’s leading performers when it comes to empowering minority and women-owned businesses to join the sports betting industry.

However, Mr. Barnes suggested to consider the MD sports betting application and diversity plan together in the future.