Members of the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) approved the first five sports betting licenses for Maryland casinos this morning, but commission members still have serious questions about future minority and female-owned business participation in the industry.

Several SWARC members expressed concerns that the commission was rushing to approve the initial five “Class A” licenses for Maryland casinos, while not investing the same attention for women and minority-owned business looking to get into the market.

“I want to ensure that within the confines of where we are and where we find ourselves, that we put forth the effort to ensure that minority and women owned business have the ability to be in the pipeline, to be considered sooner, quicker and faster,” SWARC member Rosie Allen-Herring said.

Contested sports betting license approval

Two commission members opposed the approval, but the motion did carry. The five Maryland casinos and their sportsbook partners 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

Several regulatory hurdles need to be cleared before the casinos can begin to offer in-person sports betting, but the launch could be as soon as January 2022.

SWARC members did also indicate that several additional Maryland casinos were in the pipeline to have their licenses approved in the coming months.

SWARC’s actions came several days after three Maryland casinos wrote a letter to the commission urging the approval of their licenses.

Delays cost Maryland revenue

SWARC member Randy Marriner urged his fellow commission members to approve the initial licenses. These entities are ready to go and have the structure and security in place to launch quickly. Each delay, each month that goes by is costing the state potential revenue, he said.

“It’s our job to get this done,” Marriner said.

The five casinos were among 17 entities designated in the approved sports wagering bill to conduct sports wagering operations. In August, SWARC voted unanimously that Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission’s qualification standards would be sufficient to award sports betting licenses to the 17 designated entities.

There is currently no roadmap for Maryland online sports betting.