Maryland’s online sports betting launch still does not have a concrete start date, but there’s hope it may launch sometime during the upcoming NFL season.

Of course the NFL season runs from September to February, so it’s a fairly large launch window.

Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA) Director John Martin told Saturday Tradition is no new update on the timing for online sports betting’s launch, but the hope is that it will be available sometime during the upcoming football season.

“Football tends to attract more wagering than other sports, and beyond that, the real revenue potential is in mobile. When the market is fully launched, including mobile, our back-of-the-envelope estimate is that sports wagering will contribute roughly $30 million a year to Maryland, and we expect about 90% of that will come from mobile. Maybe more importantly, sports fans are eager for the convenience of mobile betting, so we want it to launch as soon as possible,” Martin said.

State bettors are eager for the convenience of online sports betting, he said, so the MLGCA hopes to launch as soon as possible.

Late 2022, early 2023 launch more likely

The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), which is responsible for approving and awarding all state retail and online sports betting licenses, is still working on the completion of an industry analysis, or “disparity study,” before it begins the online sports betting licensing process. Martin noted the study is due to be completed and reviewed with the next couple of months.

If the licensing process cannot begin until the industry study is completed, and the study is not due to completed and reviewed “within the next couple of months,” that puts the start of the online sports betting licensing process somewhere around August or September.

The licensing and testing process can take months, so that puts the Maryland online sports betting launch somewhere in late 2022 or early 2023, which would mean the state would miss out on the majority of the football season.

The next SWARC meeting will be held on Thursday, June 16. Hopefully an update on the industry study will be provided.

Nine approved Maryland sports betting facilities

There are currently five establishments in Maryland currently accepting retail sports bets, but nine facilities in total have been licensed by SWARC. Sports wagering operations launched at MGM National Harbor, Live! Casino, Horseshoe Casino, Hollywood Casino, and Ocean Downs Casino in December 2021.

SWARC has also approved three off-track betting venues; Riverboat on the Potomac, Long Shot’s, and Greenmount Station. All three are completing facility upgrades or operational requirements in preparation for their launch dates, which have not been determined.

Bingo World in Anne Arundel County was the most recent facility to be awarded a license. It was licensed in February to offer retail sports betting and was among the original 17 entities designated in the sports wagering law to conduct retail sports betting.

Martin said the state expects at least two out of the four of these licensed facilities to begin taking bets in the summer.

“They are completing a number of operational procedures that are required before they can launch, and in some cases they are doing construction of their sports wagering areas, so we are moving at their pace,” he said.