One year from their first public meeting, Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) marked the anniversary by announcing on Wednesday that they are hopeful online sports betting will launch in time for residents to place bets on the next Super Bowl in February 2023.
Maryland voters approved sports betting in November 2020 and Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed the bill into law in 2021.
The commission is now moving through a series of final steps that must be completed before online betting can start. A long list of sportsbooks and retail locations are lining up to apply for a license to operate in Maryland online gambling.
“There are two items that must now be completed before SWARC’s application process can proceed,” SWARC chairman Thomas Brandt said on Wednesday.
The Maryland legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Executive & Legislative Review must vote to approve SWARC’s emergency adoption of its regulations. That vote is expected on Aug. 26.
Next, the commission must receive a sports wagering industry analysis and the Office of Attorney General must conduct the necessary legal review of the analysis. SWARC directed the industry analysis be procured at their September 2021 meeting.
“SWARC is hopeful that these two items can be completed promptly and that the application process for the competitive sports wagering licenses can commence soon,” Brandt said at the meeting. “Certainly, it has taken much longer to receive this analysis than any of us expected.”
What will sports betting look like in Maryland?
The Maryland sports betting market will consist of both online mobile sports wagering and brick-and-mortar sports wagering facilities, all requiring a license to operate.
The commission has already awarded sports wagering facility licenses to 11 of 17 facilities designated in Maryland sports wagering law.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the commission approved a Class B2 sports wagering facility license to Chesapeake Gaming LLC and a Class A1 sports wagering facility license to Maryland Stadium Sub LLC.
The Maryland Stadium Sub LLC license is for the Washington Commanders NFL team that plans to build a sportsbook at FedEx Field.
In related news, the Baltimore Orioles MLB team announced Wednesday they have entered into a long-term partnership with SuperBook Sports. The partnership will bring the first-ever retail sports lounge to Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Subject to licensing and approvals from the Maryland Lottery & Gaming Control Commission, sports enthusiasts will be able to experience the SuperBook Sports lounge at Camden Yards upon its anticipated completion in 2023.
SWARC’s proposed regulations and drafts of applications were approved at their July 13 meeting for mobile sports wagering licenses and fixed site sports wagering facility licenses. Now the commission is pushing forward to start the application process.
From the date that the SWARC applications are officially issued to the world, applicants will have between 45 to 60 days to complete their application and submit it to SWARC, Jim Nielson, chief operating officer of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, told commissioners at the meeting.
“Upon closing of the application window, that 45 to 60 day period, SWARC will begin its review of all the applications it receives,” Nielson said. “The amount of time needed to review the applications will depend in large part upon the number of applications received. Right now we’re estimating that SWARC will need at least 45 days. That remains to be seen, it could be less, it could be more.”
“The public is clamoring to get this thing going,” commissioner Randy Marriner said. “I would suggest a 45 days window would be a very workable solution.”
Commissioner Frank Turner echoed support saying, “I like the 45 days. I like to keep it moving.”
“At the same time that SWARC is reviewing the SWARC applications, Lottery and Gaming staff will be conducting background investigations of these same applicants,” Nielson.
“Staff believe that if the applications can be issued within the next week or two. It’s possible that Marylanders could be able to bet on the Super Bowl on a mobile platform. That’s certainly, I think, everybody’s hope.” Nielson added.