Maryland sports betting won't open in time for NFL season

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While a date has not been set on when sports wagering will begin in Maryland, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission, or SWARC, is getting closer to receiving applications from vendors.

The commission held its first meeting this week and heard from Matthew Bennett of the Maryland Department of Legislative Services about the next steps. Voters approved sports wagering in November 2020. Lawmakers passed a bill in April giving Maryland Lottery and Gaming the go-ahead to develop regulations. Gov. Larry Hogan signed the bill into law May 18.

The bill authorizes three types of licenses. Type A is split into two groups. The first is large casinos and sports stadiums/professional teams, called Type A-1, which will pay a $2 million application fee. Smaller casinos are considered Type A-2 and will pay a $1 million application fee.

Type B is also divided into two groups and consists of state fairgrounds, some bars and bingo facilities with 200 machines or more. Businesses with 25 or more employees with more than $3 million in gross receipts are considered Type B-1 and will pay a $250,000 application fee. Type B-2 applies to those with fewer than 25 employees and $3 million in gross receipts, and they will pay a $50,000 application fee. Thirty applications can be awarded, including seven already approved in the law.

Companies that apply for a mobile sports wagering license will pay a $500,000 application fee. The law allows 60 applications.

Part of the money raised will benefit the newly established Small, Minority-Owned, and Women-Owned Business Sports Wagering Assistance Fund. Some of the money will go to public education.

SWARC will award the licenses, but sports wagering would be regulated by Maryland Lottery and Gaming, which will also vet the applications. SWARC could be disbanded once the application process is completed, according to Bennett.

In its only action, SWARC members unanimously agreed that applications vetted by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming would be sufficient.

No date was given as to when applications would be received, but it is not expected to be in time for the NFL season, which begins Sept. 9.

The commission holds its next meeting the week of Sept. 20.

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