By Lewis Gould
Marylanders will not be betting online by Gov. Larry Hogan‘s desired start date of Sept. 8 to capture a full season of NFL betting.
Hogan has expressed his displeasure with the SWARC’s bureaucratic process several times.after Maryland voters approved sports betting nearly two years ago, Hogan signed legislation in spring 2021 and retail betting started in December 2021.
The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) is responsible for developing the regulations for online sports betting in Maryland and awarding licenses. Along with up to 60 mobile licenses, there are up to 30 retail licenses available through a competitive process.
According to Jim Nielsen, COO at the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, hitting the Super Bowl launch goal will require the SWARC to release applications within the next two weeks.
“Right now, we can’t determine a specific timeline for these steps, because there are many things we don’t know,” Nielsen told the SWARC. “Staff believe if the applications can be issued within the next week or two, it’s possible Marylanders can bet on the Super Bowl on a mobile platform. That is certainly everybody’s hope.”
First, a legislative review committee must approve the sports betting regulations SWARC advanced last month. The review committee should meet in time for the regulations to be published in the August 26 Maryland Register and a 30-day public comment period will follow approval.
SWARC members are also still awaiting a sports industry disparity study, which began in March. That study will tell the commission if it needs to make a special effort to include minority- and women-owned businesses in the sports betting industry.
“Recall that SWARC directed that this industry analysis be procured at our September 2021 meeting,” SWARC Chairman Thomas Brandt said in his opening statement Wednesday. “Certainly, it has taken much longer to receive this analysis than any of us expected.”