Social Equity Concerns Stall Mobile Sports Betting in Maryland

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Maryland’s land-based sports betting segment continues to expand at an even pace; however, the expected launch of online operations is taking longer than anyone had anticipated. The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) has been moving at a turtle’s pace with all approvals, but the delays may not be entirely its fault. Apparently, a lack of focus on social equity concerns for mobile sports betting is the culprit of the latest delay.

Maryland Mobile Sports Betting Growth Stalls

When Maryland lawmakers approved sports betting legislation last year, they included wording that covered social equity. Minority- and women-owned businesses should be included in the industry. For this to be part of the mobile sports betting scene, the state had to complete a “disparity analysis.” The results of that analysis will help the SWARC determine how to proceed with the licensing process.

According to Maryland’s assistant attorney general, David Stamper, the analysis isn’t yet complete. There are still a few “minor details to work out,” he explained to the SWARC last week. The same protocols were in place for retail sports betting licenses, but there has been a steady stream of approvals since last December.

Sports Betting Revenue on the Rise

Although mobile sports betting in Maryland is still months away, land-based operations are doing well. Maryland’s first month of retail betting, January, saw sportsbooks take $32.5 million in bets. December 9 of last year was the opening date of the first state-owned sportsbook. Four others opened throughout the month. In December 2021, Maryland bettors placed $16.5 million.

Maryland’s five retail gambling establishments generated almost $4.4 million in revenue last month. This is a 13.4% hold. In December, the revenue was $3.2 million, a 19.2% hold. That makes the January results 37.5% better.

From January’s revenues, $644,098 was collected by the state, an increase of 37.2% over the $469,297 from December.

New Sportsbook Set to Arrive

At Thursday’s Maryland Lottery Agency meeting, Bingo World, a Baltimore-based company, received initial approval for a sports betting license. The motion to approve was upheld by the majority of the commission members after a brief discussion on the company’s finances.

As it prepares to launch a retail betting option, Bingo World must next get approval from the SWARC and pass a background check that will be conducted by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. Only then can the license be issued.

If the license is issued, the Rush Street Interactive (RSI) sportsbook will be the official sports betting operator at Bingo World. RSI was already granted access to the Maryland market, and was also granted access to Ohio, Missouri and other states.

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