Maryland Online Sports Betting Launch Expected in December

The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) is expected to formally issue online sports betting licenses to 10 qualifying applicants when it next meets on Nov. 21.

Maryland online sports betting SWARC license
Maryland online sports betting SWARC license
Caesars Entertainment officials celebrate the opening of the Caesars Sportsbook at the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore on Dec. 10, 2021. Maryland online sports betting is expected to commence by the end of 2022. (Image: Caesars Entertainment)

Marylanders during the November 2020 election amended their state constitution through a ballot referendum to permit gambling on sports both in-person and over the internet. Nearly two years later, the online sports betting component remains on hold.

SWARC has faced much criticism for its lengthy regulatory approach in determining how to field online sportsbooks applications and distribute the concessions in a manner that adheres to equity stipulations mandated in the state’s sports betting bill signed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in May 2021.

The sports betting agency has since received legislative approval to expedite online wagering licenses. And it’s become increasingly likely that the first legal online wager in the Old Line State will be facilitated by the end of the year.

December Launch

The Maryland Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review agreed to allow SWARC to avoid waiting for a time-consuming disparity analysis being conducted by an outside third-party on the state gaming industry. SWARC will instead require licensed online sportsbook operators to “make a good faith effort” to promote inclusive hiring and maintain a diverse workforce.

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) is the first step of applicants being approved for online sports betting operations. During this week’s MLGCC meeting, the agency found 10 applicants suitable for licensure.

They are: Caesars Sportsbook, FanDuel, Betfred, BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics, Parx, Barstool Sportsbook, PointsBet, and BetRivers.

We’re pleased that we advanced the process today, but of course the work continues,” MLGCC Director John Martin said yesterday. “We’re also very happy to see such a varied group of businesses become part of this emerging market in Maryland.”

Those 10 entities are likely to be Maryland’s first legal online sportsbook operators. If SWARC issues the sports betting applicants licenses during the November hearing, the final approval step is the MLGCC reviewing their operations during a test run before they can fully go live.

Fiscal Projections

Maryland isn’t necessarily large in terms of land area but the densely populated state is still home to more than 6.1 million people, which ranks it 19th in the US. Maryland’s residents are typically well off, as the median household income in the state is nearly $90,000 — which makes Maryland the richest earning state in the nation.

Once fully operational with online operators up and running, gaming industry analysts believe Maryland oddsmakers will take upwards of $4 billion in bets each year. Assuming a conservative 5% hold rate, that would equate to around $200 million in gross revenue each year.

With Maryland levying a 15% tax on both retail and online sports betting, the state stands to collect $30 million a year from sports gambling.

Tax revenue from sports betting primarily goes towards the state’s Education Trust Fund. The fund supports early childhood education, public elementary and secondary education, and public school construction and capital improvement projects.

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