The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) opened its eLicensing platform to the 17 entities that were named in Maryland’s sports wagering law on September 14. These businesses will be provided with access to the online system they must use to submit their applications to the MLGCC for sports wagering background investigations.
Criminal and financial background investigations by the MLGCC are required for all applicants seeking sports wagering licenses. Although these investigations typically take several months, the MLGCC is planning to accelerate the launch of sports wagering operations by implementing alternative licensing standards, as permitted in the sports wagering law.
“We anticipate that some of the 17 specified locations may be able to start taking sports wagers late this fall or early this winter, in time for the NFL playoffs,” said Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin. “We’re actively working to expedite the process.”
The sports wagering law allows the MLGCC to waive certain requirements for applicants that hold licenses from other states where “the licensing standards are comprehensive and thorough and provide similar and adequate safeguards” to those required in Maryland (State Government Article § 9-1E-05).
In accordance with this provision, the MLGCC may issue interim licenses to brick-and-mortar applicants that hold gaming or sports wagering licenses from states where the background investigation standards are equivalent to those in Maryland. While this will potentially facilitate a quicker launch of sports wagering operations for some businesses, the MLGCC will perform its own thorough investigations of all applicants, and interim licenses will be revoked if any disqualifying factors are found.
The MLGCC will begin investigations of the 17 named entities once they have submitted their applications via the eLicensing portal. After receiving a completed application, the MLGCC’s staff will determine whether the applicant is eligible for an interim license based on alternative standards and issue an interim license so that sports wagering operations can begin.
Maryland’s sports wagering law requires businesses to complete a four-step process to be licensed. First, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) reviews applications and makes initial suitability determinations of the applicants. Then the MLGCC conducts criminal and financial background investigations and makes qualification determinations of the applicants. The SWARC will award licenses to qualified applicants, and finally the MLGCC will issue the licenses that allow businesses to begin sports wagering operations.
On Aug. 16, the SWARC accelerated the process for the 17 entities named in the law by voting unanimously that the MLGCC’s qualification standards are sufficient for the SWARC to award licenses to those locations. The vote allowed those businesses to proceed to their MLGCC licensing investigations. Those locations are:
• Maryland’s six casinos: MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill; Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover; Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore; Hollywood Casino in Perryville; Rocky Gap Casino in Flintstone; and Ocean Downs Casino in Berlin.
• Five off-track betting facilities: Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium; Jockey Bar and Grill in Boonsboro; Greenmount Station in Hampstead; Long Shot’s in Frederick; and Riverboat on the Potomac in Colonial Beach, Va. (in Maryland waters of the Potomac River).
• Three professional sports locations: Baltimore Ravens; Baltimore Orioles; and FedEx Field in Landover.
• Two bingo halls: Bingo World in Baltimore (Anne Arundel County); and Rod ‘N’ Reel in Chesapeake Beach.
• Horse racing tracks: Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and Laurel Park Race Track in Laurel (sharing a single license).
According to the law, 5% of the application fees paid by larger Class A sports wagering licensees will be contributed to the Small, Minority-Owned, and Women-Owned Business Sports Wagering Assistance Fund for small Class B businesses entering the sports wagering market. Processing the Class A applicants first will allow the Maryland Department of Commerce to establish guidelines for applicants seeking access to this fund.
Additional Licenses Awarded Through Competitive Process
In addition to the 17 locations that were specified in the law, the SWARC is authorized to conduct a competitive process to award up to 30 additional Class B licenses to brick-and-mortar locations and up to 60 licenses to mobile sports wagering licensees. Businesses that are awarded licenses by the SWARC through this process will also be subject to the MLGCC’s criminal and financial background investigations to determine if they are qualified to be issued licenses. The MLGCC must also license all sports wagering operators and contractors, as well as their employees.
The SWARC is developing its regulations and application requirements. It is not yet possible for businesses seeking competitive licenses to apply to the SWARC or initiate their MLGCC licensing background investigations. A timeline for these businesses to apply has not yet been finalized. The SWARC will hold a virtual meeting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 21. More information is available on the SWARC page of the General Assembly’s Department of Legislative Services website.
Public Comments on Sports Wagering Regulations
The MLGCC is accepting public comments on its sports wagering regulations through Sept. 27. A public meeting on the regulations will be held at 10 a.m. on Sept. 22 in the auditorium on the first floor of the Montgomery Park Business Center, 1800 Washington Boulevard in Baltimore. A live audio-only stream of the meeting will be available at mdgaming.com. The MLGCC will not be responding to comments during this meeting. Comments can also be submitted online, by email at email@example.com, or by regular, first-class mail to James B. Butler, Managing Director for Organizational Compliance, Maryland Lottery and Gaming, 1800 Washington Boulevard, Suite 330, Baltimore, MD 21230.