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Maryland approves 10 mobile sports betting licenses as launch nears

Ten companies were approved for mobile sports betting licenses Wednesday, paving the way for Marylanders to legally gamble on their cellphones next week.

Soon, Maryland bettors will be able to wager using the following companies: Barstool Sportsbook, Betfred, BetMGM, betPARX, BetRivers, Caesars, DraftKings, Fanatics, FanDuel and PointsBet.

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The licensees must complete a controlled demonstration for state regulators before they begin operation. So the exact date of the launch is not yet known but is expected before Thanksgiving. It’s been more than two years since Maryland voters passed a referendum allowing sports betting, and the slow launch process of online wagering has frustrated gamblers.

Maryland’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission was formed in 2021 to award retail and mobile sports wagering licenses; part of their focus, as mandated by state law, was to promote racial, ethnic and gender diversity.

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“The language of the law, which created SWARC, has been challenging, and our commission has taken seriously its intent to enable diverse participation in this new industry,” commission chair Tom Brandt said during a meeting Wednesday. “SWARC was obliged to await the outcome of an industry analysis before we could issue regulations and invite competitive applications — and thereby avoid costs and further delays. So it’s taken us a while to get to this point. I’m grateful to all involved for doing their best to measure twice and cut once.”

Each applicant was required to demonstrate that at least 5% of its ownership was held by individuals with a net worth less than $1.847 million, in an effort to “broaden participation in the industry,” per SWARC.

Cordish Gaming Group, which operates Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland and has partnered with FanDuel’s mobile sportsbook, said in a news release that it would use an employee ownership plan, “rather than fulfill that requirement with other investors.” About 90 management-level employees will own, in total, up to 10% of the license, per the news release.

“When we evaluated how we should meet the state’s requirements for ownership of this license, there was no question that this was the right path forward,” said Rob Norton, the president of Cordish Gaming Group, in a statement. “We are grateful that so many Team Members, from shift managers on the casino floor to managers running our hotel and food and beverage operations, want to be part of this venture with us.”


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