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Five Maryland Casinos Finally Receive State Approval for Sports Betting

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated October 14, 2022
11 min read
Maryland Casinos State Approval
  • After Months of Waiting, SWARC Approves Sports Betting Licenses for 5 MD Casinos
  • Sports Wagering Application and Review Commission Criticized for Delays
  • Unfair Advantage: Casinos to Begin Sportsbook Operations Ahead of Small Businesses

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After Months of Waiting, SWARC Approves Sports Betting Licenses for 5 MD Casinos

For those Maryland bettors who have been eagerly anticipating legal sports betting to launch in their state, that long wait appears to be over now that the Sports Wagering Application and Review Commission (SWARC) has approved the license applications of five casinos.

The SWARC has been tasked with reviewing all applications for sports betting licenses in Maryland to make sure the applicants are fit to operate sportsbooks, and after much controversial delay, these five casinos have been approved by a commission vote of 5-2:

  1. MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill
  2. Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover
  3. Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore
  4. Hollywood Casino in Perryville
  5. Ocean Downs in Berlin

The state’s sixth casino, Rocky Gap Casino in Flintstone has not yet applied for sportsbook privileges though they are permitted to do so.

Now, all that is left to do is for the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) to issue each of those five casinos a sports wagering permit which should happen soon after the lottery agency receives the $500,000 one-time upfront fee from each business.

These SWARC approvals are long overdue, according to many industry leaders.

Sports Wagering Application and Review Commission Criticized for Delays

It has taken months for these approvals to finally happen, the entire process enduring unexplained delays that did not need to happen, according to representatives from the various casinos who had applied for sports betting licenses.

These casinos are established businesses in Maryland and given their proven business track record in the state, such scrutiny as they have endured seemed like overkill.

In a letter to SWARC, three of the waiting casinos – MGM, Live!, and Horseshoe – made clear their unhappiness with these delays, especially given that Maryland’s sports betting law requires the state to procure licenses in a timely manner once the MLGCC has given their approval.

Each of the ‘Class A’ applicants signing this letter has passed the rigorous scrutiny of the MLGCC and satisfied the conditions for licensure… Yet, the SWARC has delayed approval of these licenses for several weeks with no clear explanation for the delay.

Given that these casinos have provided Maryland with more than $12.47 billion since beginning operations in 2010, a little more expediency was expected.

Now with those five approvals, another hiccup has been created, in essence, an unfair head starts for those operations.

Unfair Advantage: Casinos to Begin Sportsbook Operations Ahead of Small Businesses

From the beginning, sports betting licenses were earmarked for the state’s six casinos, its pro sports stadiums, horse racetracks, and state fairgrounds, as well as for minority- and women-owned small businesses.

But only five casinos were approved by SWARC ahead of all the other applicants, and some argue that those casinos have been given an unfair head start.

By law, up to 60 mobile and small business licenses are available, and that means lots more applications for SWARC to review, so more delays are inevitable, but Governor Larry Hogan is convinced the waiting is almost over, telling the media:

Our administration will continue to work to get sports betting up and running in Maryland as quickly as possible.

Keep checking back for all the latest news and updates on this ongoing story.

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Mike Lukas

1204 Articles

Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]

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