Maryland’s Sports Betting Market Could Add New Options This Month

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Five Maryland casinos are closer to launching retail sports betting. According to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC), the regulator is planning to conduct soft launches at the properties. All five were granted licenses by the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) on November 18.

Maryland Making Progress With Sports Betting

It took a little while, but Maryland is finally seeing real progress with its sports betting market. After a couple of short delays, the state has been able to push forward and is now rapidly approving sports betting licenses. Last month, the Hollywood Casino, Horseshoe Casino, Live! Casino, MGM National Harbor and Ocean Downs Casino were given approval.

Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff will observe the five casinos as guests place bets at their respective facilities during the controlled demonstrations. MLGCC didn’t specify when demonstrations would take place.

John Martin, Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s director, stated in a press release that controlled demonstrations were an important last step before the public can wager on sports. They are a rehearsal for the facilities and their staff and allow MLGCC assurance to the public that they are ready to go.

The soft launches, or “controlled demonstrations,” as the MLGCC is calling them, tend to be limited in terms of the number of participants and wagers. Although not all states opt for soft launches, Connecticut and Pennsylvania were the only ones to follow a similar procedure. It was beneficial in Connecticut, which identified a possibly large conflict of interest.

Two days of controlled demonstrations are required for the five Maryland casinos. The controlled demonstrations are not consecutive, as each casino must undergo at least one day of evaluation by the lottery staff. The casinos will be ready to open to the public after the controlled demonstrations are completed. This could happen within the next few days.

More Approvals Coming

Two more are moving through the approval process. The MLGCC named Long Shot’s and Riverboat-on-the-Potomac (PointsBet) as qualified for sports wagering facility licenses Thursday. They were two of 17 Maryland entities that must be licensed to offer sports betting. Long Shot’s is woman-owned, while Riverboat-on-the-Potomac is minority-owned.

The SWARC will review the off-track betting entities as part of Maryland’s approval process to license sports betting. The date of the next SWARC meeting has not been announced.

E. Randolph Marriner, chair of the MLGCC, stated in a video meeting yesterday that it was a record-breaking day in Maryland. “We have qualified two applicants — one minority- and one woman-owned. I think this is what the legislature charged us with doing,” he added.

Each entity will benefit from the diverse ownership pool as it progresses to the next stage of the approval process. Because it wanted to see a wider range of applicants, the SWARC had delayed approval of five casinos recently approved. SWARC members even discussed delaying the process to make sure there was a wider range of applicants.

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