Maryland’s Sports Betting Efforts Take an Unexpected Detour

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Maryland legalized sports betting earlier this year, paving way for the market to officially be active as of June 1. There were a couple of minor issues that needed to be addressed, but the biggest hurdle was getting the licenses issued. Everything seemed to be on track for that to happen this week; however, a last-minute change in plans has upset the schedule even more than it already was.

Maryland Struggling with Sports Betting

Three casinos in Maryland were among several targets that had been expected to be issued their licenses this week. Governor Larry Hogan wanted to ensure the process went smoothly and asked state residents to reach out to the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), which was to issue the licenses, to try to help. However, even the intervention of the top lawmaker in the state doesn’t always work.

The SWARC had a meeting scheduled for yesterday, at which time it was expected to officially approve the sportsbook licenses for the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, MGM National Harbor, and Live! Casino and Hotel. At the last minute, the committee called off its meeting, but hasn’t given a reason for the cancelation. The schedule on the SWARC’s website only has the event scratched off and a comment that it “has been postponed.” No new date has been given, putting Maryland’s sports betting plans in limbo once again.

Maryland’s Frustrating Struggles with Sports Betting

It appeared as though Maryland was on track for a relatively normal, albeit somewhat slow, turnaround with its sports betting legalization process, but someone, somewhere is pulling the strings behind some invisible curtain. The SWARC was to issue the licenses to as many as 17 venues that were previously cleared in accordance with the legislation, although they still had to pass an investigation by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA). The agency is still conducting its investigation, but this is not believed to be a reason for the SWARC’s decision to postpone the meeting.

The SWARC had already determined that it had enough support from the MLGCA to issue the licenses. The three casinos were grandfathered in through an “alternative licensing standards” measure the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) signed off on just over a week ago. That was done with the sole purpose of expediting the approval process so sports betting could begin as quickly as possible in order to make the most out of the NFL season and the NBA, which just started its preseason games.

Between the SWARC, the MLGCA, the MLGCC and Governor Hogan, it seems as though there is some disconnect over how sports betting needs to advance in the state. Hopefully, they can figure out how to play as a team quickly.

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