Sports betting in Maryland is in its final phase of approval and could become legal in the next few days after five commercial casinos got the formal green light to provide patrons with this type of service. This development comes just one day after casinos in the states joined forces and pressured authorities to speed up the process of handing out licenses.
SWARC Finally Decided to Approve Licenses
After the launch of sports betting in the state was delayed a few times, the Sports Wagering Application and Review Commission (SWARC) finally gave Horseshoe Baltimore, MGM National Harbor, Ocean Downs, Live! Casino Hotel and Hollywood Casino Perryville its blessing.
SWARC’s main task is to review sportsbook tenders from applicants and it recommended that the five aforementioned casinos meet the requirements. Now, all that is left is for the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) to officially issue betting licenses, which will do so once it receives a one-time upfront fee of half a million dollars from each of the five casinos.
In the recent period, the SWARC was the target of numerous critics, including some from Governor Larry Hogan, who appointed members in the commission. This is because SWARC was not able to move on time and review the applications from casinos in a more efficient manner.
The Sports Betting Law in Maryland Is Unique
Sports betting is now legal in well over two dozen states in the US, and the laws in Maryland are quite unique. Since lawmakers wanted the sports betting industry to be as diverse as possible, apart from the six casinos that can apply for a license in the state, permits are also reserved for women-owned and minority-owned small businesses.
Out of the commercial casinos, Rocky Gap Casino still hasn’t applied for a license and it remains the only facility of its type without a permit.
Small businesses that have less than $3 million annual revenue and fewer than 25 employees can apply for a license and if they are approved, the upfront fee will be as low as $50,000. In order to incorporate sports wagering kiosks and share the revenue, these facilities will team up with third-party operators such as DraftKings.
The SWARC had a lot of reviewing work to do as 60 small and mobile business licenses are available at the moment. Casinos critiqued this move stating that since they are long-established facilities in Maryland, the massive delay was unreasonable.
The Decision To Allow Sports Betting Wasn’t Quite Unanimous
During the SWARC’s meeting, which took place yesterday (Thursday), some commissioners were hesitant to allow casinos to offer sports betting services. Rosie Allen-Herring stated that she doesn’t like the fact that there isn’t more “minority interest at the ready.”
Commissioner Frank Turner stated that he feels rushed to a certain degree and added that issuing the licenses simultaneously makes sense.
However, even though some hesitation was present, the SWARC voted 5-2 to recommend the five casinos to receive their licenses, which is something that Governor Hogan celebrated.
Hogan addressed the development in a tweet by saying that the administration is pleased that the commission has acted and approved the licenses. He also added that the administration will double back to make sure that sports betting in Maryland is launched as soon as possible.
Sports betting gross revenue will have a 15% tax and most of that money will go to public schools.