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There’s a ‘good chance’ mobile sports betting comes to Maryland before the end of 2022

By the end of this year, Maryland gamblers may be able to place mobile sports bets.

The arrival of online sports gambling has been more than two years in the making, but as recently as last month, a 2022 launch didn’t seem likely. At that time, a Maryland state gaming control agency official said it was “everybody’s hope” that mobile sports betting could take place in the state before the Super Bowl in February.

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However, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission began accepting applications Tuesday from mobile sports betting businesses and Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin predicted that mobile wagering could start before the end of 2022.

“We’ve been doing everything we can to have it launch before the end of the year, and now we have a good chance to make that happen,” he said in a statement.

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The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports gambling in 2018 and Maryland voters approved legalized sports betting in 2020. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill into law allowing in-person and mobile sports betting in 2021. Later that year, wagering at select locations, such as Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino, began.

Mobile sports betting, however, has not yet launched.

More than 20 states have legalized online sports wagering, but Maryland’s implementation has taken months longer than most.

Launching has been a comprehensive process as Maryland officials have sought, in accordance with state law, to promote diversity in “race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, disability status, and veteran status.”

Each prospective mobile licensee, which has until Oct. 21 to apply, must submit a “Diversity Plan” and make a “good faith effort” to follow its guidelines. According to the application, the plan should contain steps the applicant will take to “promote meaningful diversity among its owners, investors, managers, employees, and contractors and to promote equality of opportunity.”

Hogan has been among those who have urged gambling regulators to hasten the launch of mobile sports betting; he called in June for it to be available by the beginning of the 2022 football season, which starts with Thursday’s Los Angeles Rams-Buffalo Bills game. The Ravens start their season Sunday at the New York Jets.

“After having to overcome numerous bureaucratic hurdles from the legislature’s commission, we’re finally seeing some progress on mobile betting,” Hogan tweeted Tuesday. “I am going to keep holding everyone’s feet to the fire until this is up and running. Marylanders have waited long enough.”

Football season is a busy one for the gambling industry, as application review commission chair Thomas Brandt wrote in a request last month to the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review for swift approval to open the application process.

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“Football season (September through the Super Bowl in February) annually generates much more activity than other times of the year. Thus, unless we move quickly, Marylanders will miss access to mobile wagering on the 2022 football season, and the state will miss out on the related revenue,” Brandt wrote.

The legislative committee approved the application process Friday, which enabled the commission to begin accepting applications.

Prospective sports wagering businesses have 45 days to apply for one of 60 licenses. On Tuesday, SWARC also opened applications for up to 30 “Class B” facilities — physical gambling locations that will be smaller than “Class A” ones like large casinos.

Following the application process, state officials will complete background checks for up to 45 days. Such a timeline could make a December launch possible, in time for the end of the 2022 college and pro football seasons.


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