The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) this morning approved its initial batch of online sportsbooks, with several notable applicants being deemed suitable in the Old Line State including DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars Sportsbook, and BetMGM.
SWARC officials confirmed that Barstool Sportsbook, Betfred, BetMGM, betPARX, BetRivers, Caesars, DraftKings, Fanatics, FanDuel, and PointsBet have been designated as permitted online sportsbooks. The 10 platforms will now undergo a controlled demonstration of their operations monitored by staff from the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC).
Once the MLGCC determines that an operator’s processes meet the state’s regulatory standards, the platform will be allowed to begin fielding real money wagers from the public. It is the hope among state gaming officials to have the apps running sometime next week.
Minority Distribution Major Hurdle
SWARC was given the difficult task of fielding mobile sports betting applications but issuing them in a diverse, equitable manner. That’s the way state lawmakers wrote Maryland’s sports betting law, which SWARC blamed for the lengthy holdup in allowing online sports gambling to commence.
The language of the law has been challenging, and our commission has taken seriously its intent to enable diverse participation in this new industry,” SWARC chair Tom Brandt said during Wednesday’s meeting.
“SWARC was obliged to await the outcome of an industry analysis before we could issue regulations and invite competitive applications. So, it’s taken us a while to get to this point. I’m grateful to all involved for doing their best to measure twice and cut once,” Brandt added.
Facing much criticism for its seemingly slow path to online sportsbooks going live, SWARC in September obtained legislative approval to expedite the process. The General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review said SWARC could forego awaiting the results of a third-party “disparity analysis” on the current Maryland gaming industry.
That decision allowed SWARC to begin issuing online sportsbook concessions to applicants found suitable for licensure. SWARC instead opted to amend its qualifying criteria to mandate that each online sportsbook licensed in the state present the MLGCC with a diversity plan and make annual commitments to improving its diversity metrics.
Cordish Satisfies Diversity
Baltimore-based Cordish Companies is entering the online sports gambling space in Maryland with its flagship casino property Maryland Live! Casino Hotel. Cordish has come up with an ownership arrangement for its online business that will seemingly appease SWARC.
Cordish partnered with FanDuel for its brick-and-mortar sports betting business at its Hanover casino. The company is leveraging its FanDuel partnership for its forthcoming online sports betting business, and is issuing certain team members shares in the sportsbook app.
Cordish told Casino.org this morning that approximately 90 Cordish employees working in Maryland have exercised their option to purchase shares equivalent to a 10% stake in the company’s online sportsbook license. The ownership arrangement, Cordish says, will provide a “meaningful economic benefit to a diverse group” of Live! workers “who have shown their loyalty to Cordish through their long tenures with the company.”
“When we evaluated how we should meet the state’s requirements for ownership of this license, there was no question that this was the right path forward. We are grateful that so many team members, from shift managers on the casino floor to managers running our hotel and food and beverage operations, want to be part of this venture with us,” commented Rob Norton, president of Cordish Gaming.
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