‘Frustrated’ Maryland Governor Wants Mobile Wagering By NFL Season

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‘Frustrated’ Maryland Governor Wants Mobile Wagering By NFL Season
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Citing “endless bureaucratic roadblocks,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is calling on state gaming regulators to approve launch of Maryland sportsbook apps in time for the start of the NFL season. 

Hogan, a Republican, stressed in a letter to gaming officials Wednesday that the NFL regular season begins Sept. 8. The league’s games traditionally are the most heavily wagered sporting events in the nation, generating the most tax revenue for states, typically through online sportsbooks such as BetMGM MD.

Maryland’s NFL team, the Baltimore Ravens, open their regular season with a Sept. 11 road game against the New York Jets. 

In a letter to the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission, Hogan said meeting the NFL target date will require the commission to “immediately accelerate and intensify” its efforts.

The governor’s letter, dated one day before the commission’s next meeting on Thursday, noted Marylanders have “grown frustrated” waiting nearly two years since voting to approve sports betting, including mobile wagering.

“I share their frustration,” Hogan wrote.

Marylanders Betting In Neighboring States

The governor noted that neighboring jurisdictions already allow mobile wagering. This includes Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Although Maryland has five brick-and-mortar sites allowing in-person sports bets, many residents are traveling out of state to place mobile wagers, Hogan said. This costs Maryland “millions of dollars in economic investment and education revenue that should be going toward our public schools and students,” the governor wrote.

“Sports fans in Maryland simply want to be able to place bets on their mobile devices — that’s what they voted for, and they are angry and discouraged over SWARC’s inability to make it happen,” he wrote. “Our state and its citizens deserve clear and definitive action from SWARC and a legal, transparent framework to place mobile bets — not endless bureaucratic roadblocks that continue to hold back progress.”

Hogan said the delay is “the byproduct of an overly complex piece of legislation that was skewed to appease special interest groups and organizations.” 

That legislative measure, House Bill 940, established rules to ensure an inclusive array of mobile operators are offering betting apps in the state.

However, Hogan said the “time for deliberation has long since passed."

Action Plan

The governor outlined the following steps the commission can take “to get mobile sports betting up and running.”

  1. Prioritize the awarding of mobile licenses for any of the retail entities named in the original mobile betting legislation that have already been found qualified by Maryland Lottery and Gaming and that choose to offer mobile wagering.
  2. Set a firm and transparent timeline for mobile sports wagering at its next meeting so those involved in the industry and Maryland residents can track progress.
  3. Release drafts of the mobile sports wagering application and accompanying regulations immediately after its next meeting so the industry can begin preparing comments, materials and responses.
  4. Apply the same approach to mobile licenses used in expediting the facility license awards last fall. At that time, SWARC voted unanimously that Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s licensing qualification standards were sufficient to award licenses to any of the 17 retail entities that were designated in the sports wagering law. Six of these 17 entities are experienced gaming operators that are already licensed for mobile wagering in numerous other states.
  5. Expedite the named entities will make it possible to intensify efforts in guiding the small, minority- and women-owned enterprises through the application and qualification process so they can get up and running more quickly.
  6. Approve mobile sports wagering license applications on a rolling basis (first come, first served).

Mobile Expected To Dominate Market

In the letter, Hogan predicted mobile sports wagering through online sportsbooks will become "dominant in Maryland, just as it is in other states, with estimates that 80% to 90% of all wagers will be made via mobile devices.”

Indeed, many big names were awaiting the regulation of online sports betting to be approved to develop their local market. Sportsbooks like Caesars Maryland are expected to go live as soon as the legislation permits. 

“The ongoing delay is preventing Maryland from fully and properly tapping into his market,” the governor wrote. 

It's safe to assume that mobile will also be dominant in Ohio, which will launch on January 1, 2023. Bettors in that state can use Ohio betting apps to bet on their favourite sports teams.

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