Maryland regulator hopes to speed up licensing process

Maryland sports betting remains limited to in-person betting.
Maryland sports betting remains limited to in-person betting.

The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) has reworked its licensing criteria to speed up the launch of mobile sports betting.

US.- The Maryland Sports Wagering and Application Review Commission (SWARC) has approved regulations to speed up the launch of mobile sports betting. The move comes after governor Larry Hogan urged the commission to “accelerate and intensify” its work to get mobile sports gambling up and running by September. However, the launch date is still uncertain.

The commissioners have signed off on the amended online licensing procedures, which now go to the Maryland Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review for emergency approval. If the legislature ratifies the altered online sportsbook licensing process, SWARC will begin fielding applications and issuing permits to approved entities.

SWARC chair Tom Brandt said during the commission’s meeting held via Zoom: “Over the past year, we’ve heard extensive legal advice regarding constraints on us in managing the online licensing process. To avoid further delay, we have asked staff and our professional team to draft regulations that exclude race and gender-based license criteria.”

According to Brandt, eliminating those licensing standards will allow SWARC to more easily issue mobile permits. It will do so by identifying entities already qualified and regulated by other state minority laws, most specifically the six land-based casinos.

He stressed that excluding race and gender from the licensing criteria now will not prevent the state from achieving racial, ethnic, and gender diversity among the licensees in the future. Brandt said that will be accomplished as the state issues additional mobile and small business sports betting licences once the disparity analysis is completed.

The disparity analysis is crucial, as the state must demonstrate discrimination in a marketplace before it can give preferential consideration to minority applicants.

“SWARC is legally required to conduct an industry analysis to determine whether there is a legal basis to implement race or gender-conscious measures in the application and evaluation process,” Brandt concluded.

Governor Hogan signed a bill to legalise online and retail sports betting in Maryland last year after voters approved sports betting through a November 2020 referendum. Retail betting has been available for six months, but online sports betting has not yet launched. Hogan has said he wanted to have mobile sports betting in time for the NFL season in September. There will be 60 mobile and 30 retail licences available.

See also: Maryland sportsbooks handle drops to $19m in June

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Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission mobile sports betting