Hogan pressures gaming commission to launch mobile betting ‘immediately’

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) said Maryland residents are frustrated with the slow rollout of mobile sports betting here. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Frustrated that Maryland is lagging behind other states in a potentially lucrative industry, Governor Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. is urging the commission that oversees sports betting to approve mobile betting by the start of the season 2022 from the NFL in September.

In a letter to the Sports Betting Applications Review Board (SWARC) on Tuesday, Hogan (R) urged the panel to “immediately accelerate and intensify your efforts” to grant mobile licenses.

Currently, Marylanders can only bet on sporting events at a handful of casinos – MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Live! in Hanover, Horseshoe in Baltimore, Ocean Downs in Berlin and Hollywood in Perryville.

A small number of sports bars have also been approved and are in the process of opening their betting operations.

But online betting – where the public can place bets on a phone or laptop – is still not available here, even though voters approved a 2020 sports betting referendum.

Hogan’s letter to SWARC comes as industry watchers grow pessimistic about Maryland’s hopes of launching mobile betting this year.

“Online sports betting in Maryland in 2022 is likely dead,” read a recent headline on industry website Legal Sports Report. The site blamed “a lengthy bureaucratic process for Maryland sports betting [that] continues to have no end in sight.

Action Network, a leading betting-related site, reported in April that “the rollout of online sports betting in Maryland is the longest delay in US history.”

While critics accuse SWARC of dragging its feet, state lawmakers who helped craft Maryland’s sports betting law defend the commission. They say the panel adheres to their legislation, which places great importance on ensuring that local, women- and minority-owned entrepreneurs are able to compete with domestic sportsbooks that dominate elsewhere.

“We all want mobile betting to start, but we need to get it started in a way where we follow the law and the intent of the bill,” Del said. Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s), Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. Black caucus. “And that was to try to give minorities the opportunity to participate in this industry.”

At the heart of the state’s efforts to ensure a level playing field is a “gap study” that documents the barriers to entry that non-white and women-led businesses face in accessing capital and shares. Steps. SWARC relies heavily on the advice it receives from the Attorney General’s office, which makes it unlikely that SWARC will change its strategy.

In his letter, Hogan blamed an “overly complex” law that he said was “biased to appease special interest groups and organizations.” He did not identify them. Hogan also blamed “bureaucratic hurdles and legal hurdles placed by the attorney general’s office. Hogan and Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) have a frosty relationship.

“With only five physical locations in the state currently accepting sports betting, Maryland is losing tens of millions of dollars in economic investment and education revenue that should be going to our public schools and our students,” a- he writes. “The time for deliberations has passed.”

Hogan called on SWARC to:

  • Set a “firm and transparent timetable” for the launch of mobile betting “at your next meeting”. (The panel meets on Thursday.)
  • Publish the preliminary version of its “application and accompanying regulations” to allow future sportsbooks to prepare comments
  • Adopt an expedited process – similar to that used last year, to allow physical locations to open their doors – so that “experienced gaming operators who are already licensed for mobile betting in many other states” can begin to accept bets here

Although Hogan is working to increase mobile betting by September, for Week 1 of the NFL season, an industry source told Legal Sports Report that “a launch by Super Bowl 2023 is probably overkill.”

SWARC is unlikely to get the disparities study “until at least the summer”, Action Network reported. “Only then can the Maryland Lottery begin the settlement and application process, which will take even longer.”

“Maryland earned $1.8 million in four months of retail sports betting, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what’s expected from online betting,” the site reported. “Virginia, its neighbor to the south, has already earned $24.6 million in sports betting taxes.”

Proceeds from sports betting help fund a decade-long education reform plan called Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

Senator Craig Zucker (D-Montgomery), another lawmaker involved in crafting Maryland’s sports betting law, said SWARC “follows the letter of the law.”

“The goal of mobile apps was to make sure everyone had the opportunity to enter the market,” he said. “That includes your minority and women-owned small businesses. It’s an independent commission that was appointed by the General Assembly and the Governor to get it right. This is the most important thing.

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