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Maryland gamblers hoping for a mobile market to launch might see more action watching paint dry since the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) – the body in charge of awarding licenses to retail and mobile sports wagering operators – is moving rather slowly.
So slow, in fact, that Governor Larry Hogan recently sent them a relatively heated letter requesting a clearer timeline and accusing them of:
…allowing the process to stagnate and become mired in overly bureaucratic procedures that have needlessly delayed the state’s ability to maximize the revenue potential of this emerging industry.
The Governor makes a valid point given that Maryland’s legal sports betting market launched in December 2021 and since then resident bettors have only been able to enjoy sports betting in person since the mobile option is taking a lot more time to regulate and implement by SWARC.
The reason? SWARC says it’s been bogged down by diversity requirements and has essentially ignored the Governor’s request.
In the over thirty other states where sports betting has been made legal, the mobile option has proven to be more lucrative than the retail branch of that market, so every month that SWARC delays on this it’s costing Maryland millions of potential dollars in lost tax revenue.
SWARC blames the delay on having to comply with so many demands for diversity called for by Maryland’s sports betting law, as this fiscal note attached to HB 940 seems to clarify:
The bill expresses the intent of the General Assembly that the sports wagering program is to be implemented in a manner that, to the extent permitted by law, maximizes the ability of minorities, women, and minority and women-owned businesses to participate in the sports wagering industry.
A noble goal worthy of attention but not if in the end it causes the application process to grind to a halt, the red tape becoming so cumbersome that even SWARC Chairman Thomas Brandt has seriously asked:
Are We Overdoing It? Are we making it too hard with all the stuff we’re asking for? It’s a lot for a restaurant or a startup.
Could be – but regardless diversity remains a critical target for this mobile market and that could cause further delays in Maryland.
SWARC is scheduled to meet next on July 20 so perhaps that is when some forward movement will take place, but one sports betting reporter has Tweeted that a mobile market in Maryland does not look likely until after the NFL’s 2022 season ends in February 2023.
A mobile sports betting launch in Maryland may come after the stamrt of the 2022 NFL season. https://t.co/rESqfCmg5t
— Bennett Conlin (@BennettConlin) May 18, 2022
That’s unfortunate for Baltimore Ravens fans who will spend another football season unable to place bets with their devices, maybe not a problem for those residents who live close enough to the border to drive to Washington D.C. or Virginia where that online activity is already legal.
A diverse mobile sports betting market in Maryland could serve as a positive example for other states to follow, but that won’t be possible until that online portion launches and a SWARC consultant has made it clear it will do its best to focus on “speed to market” as a priority.
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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]More info on Mike Lukas
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