Maryland online sports betting may face yet another delay after more than a year of what has seemed like nothing but continuous delays.

Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) Chairman Thomas M. Brandt sent a letter today to the Maryland Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) urging the committee to approve SWARC’s proposed emergency regulations.

Any additional hold ups, he said, may see Maryland online sports betting delayed until after the Super Bowl.

Maryland sports betting may miss 2022 NFL season

Brandt and SWARC members approved emergency regulations and submitted them to the AELR on July 22. AELR’s approval of the regulations had been expected by SWARC this month.

“After much work, we are nearly at the finish line, but we need your help. The sports wagering industry is ‘seasonal,’ and the football season (September through the Super Bowl in February) annually generates much more activity than other times of the year. Thus, unless we move quickly, Marylanders will miss access to mobile wagering on the 2022 football season, and the state will miss out on the related revenue,” Brandt wrote in his letter to the AELR.

SWARC’s proposed regulations were published today in the Maryland Register, marking the beginning of a 30-day public comment. But, without final AELR approval of the emergency regulations, SWARC cannot begin its online sports betting licensing process.

SWARC, Brandt wrote, is eager to receive AELR’s approval to move forward and complete the process.

“Marylanders have been waiting for mobile sports wagering for more than a year since the Sports Wagering Law was passed. The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund is awaiting the revenue that sports wagering will contribute to public schools. But none of this can happen until AELR acts on our proposed emergency regulations.”

Maryland sports betting industry analysis study on its way

An interesting note in Brandt’s letter reveals that SWARC has seen a preview of the sports wagering industry study it’s been waiting on for more than year. On Aug. 19, Brandt said the Maryland Department of Transportation informed the commission that the industry analysis had been completed.

In a preview of the study findings, SWARC found that it cannot apply race- and/or gender-conscious criteria in its online sports betting licensing process. Since its formation, SWARC has been tasked with ensuring gender and race-based fairness during the state’s sports betting licensing process.

In order to ensure fairness, but not use gender- or race-conscious criteria in its licensing process, Brandt said SWARC has instituted a Personal Net Worth (PNW) provision.

Under this provision, every application for an online sports betting license or a Class B facility sports wagering license must demonstrate that at least 5% of its direct or indirect ownership is by individuals with a PNW no more than $1.847 million. The provision, Brandt said in his letter, meets the definition of “disadvantaged business enterprises” used in Maryland Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) programs.

“It is noteworthy that the nature of the mobile sports wagering business does not entail significant numbers of employees, subcontractors or physical facilities, as with other industries, so the ownership opportunity is SWARC’s best way to achieve the legislation’s objectives. Further delay and study would not realistically lead to a different conclusion,” he wrote.