The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) on November 4 approved the sports wagering operator partners of five casinos, all of which are still awaiting license awards from the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC).
In October, the MLGCC determined that the five casinos are qualified to conduct sports wagering and forwarded their applications to the SWARC. No action was taken on the five licenses during a SWARC meeting held Nov. 3, however the MLGCC’s approval of each casino’s operator partner is an important, but separate, procedural step in the development of the state’s sports wagering program.
The licenses for the five companies that the MLGCC approved today do not require approval by the SWARC. The companies and the casinos with which they are partnered are as follows:
• Barstool Sports, partner of Hollywood Casino in Perryville
• Caesars Sportsbook, partner of Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore
• FanDuel Sportsbook, partner of Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover
• BetMGM, partner of MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill
• TwinSpires, partner of Ocean Downs Casino in Berlin
“We’re obviously disappointed by the lack of progress in yesterday’s SWARC meeting, but we’re pleased that we’ve moved forward in other areas,” said Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin. “The delay is likely to push sports wagering back until after the New Year. At this point, we are hoping to make the NFL playoffs in January and the Super Bowl in February.”
“In the meantime, there are numerous steps that don’t involve the SWARC, and we are working closely with each facility to complete those tasks,” Martin added. “We’re also continuing investigations of additional facility applicants so we can forward more of them to the SWARC. We are forging ahead in spite of the delays.”
During its Nov. 3 meeting, the SWARC approved a motion asking all entities that have initiated their sports wagering applications to provide supplemental information on their ownership structures within seven days.
After reviewing that information, the SWARC will meet again at 8 a.m. on Nov. 18.
“We’re making progress on as much of this as we can now, but we’ll still need time to work through a number of procedures with each facility, even after the license are awarded — it could take up to 30-45 days,” Martin said. “If the SWARC awards the licenses on Nov. 18 and all goes well, that would mean a launch date somewhere around the first of the year.”
Substantial work is in progress as the five facilities and Maryland Lottery and Gaming await the SWARC’s action. Because the sports wagering law requires the MLGCC to regulate sports wagering “to the same extent” that it regulates casino gaming, the following steps must be completed:
• The MLGCC must find each facility’s sports wagering contractors and staff qualified for licenses. SWARC approval of these licenses is not required.
• Each facility must submit documentation of the following elements of their sports wagering operations and have them approved by Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff:
o Internal control procedures
o Security and surveillance systems and procedures o Technology and back-office systems o Responsible gaming plans
• Each facility must verify that it has trained its staff to conduct sports wagering operations.
• Each facility must successfully complete a controlled demonstration of sports wagering operations, which involves scheduling a date(s) to conduct live wagering under the observation of Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff. The SWARC must first award licenses in order for the facilities to conduct controlled demonstrations.
• The MLGCC may issue licenses for sports wagering at that point.
In affirming the qualifications of the five operators this morning, the MLGCC delegated to Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff the authority to apply alternative licensing standards, as outlined in state law. The MLGCC may temporarily waive certain requirements for applicants that hold gaming or sports wagering licenses from Maryland or 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).
Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff determined that all five companies are qualified because they each have sports wagering licenses from at least three other states with standards that are similar to those in Maryland. Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s full licensing investigations of these five companies are ongoing, and any licenses that are issued may be revoked.