Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has ordered the state’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) to “immediately accelerate and intensify” their work to license online betting operators.
Hogan signed a bill to legalize both online and retail sports betting in Maryland last year, after voters approved sports betting through a November 2020 referendum.
However, while retail betting has been available for six months, online sports betting has still not launched.
The Governor said action needed to be taken to ensure that Marylanders can legally bet on mobile devices in time for the National Football League (NFL) season beginning on 8 September. As a result, he wrote to SWARC urging the licensing body take action to allow online betting to launch by that date.
“Instead of decisive action to implement the voters’ decision, you have allowed the progress to stagnate and become mired in overly bureaucratic procedures that have needlessly delayed the state’s ability to maximize the revenue potential of this growing industry,” he said.
This, he said, was partly due to the “overly complex” sports betting legislation that came into law, which he said existed to “appease special interest groups” rather than create the best system. However, he said that even despite of this, the delays had been “unacceptable”.
As a result, Hogan set out a number of actions that he said SWARC should take now in order to launch online sports betting as soon as possible.
First, he said the body should prioritize awarding online licenses to operators that have already received retail licenses. In addition, Hogan recommended SWARC approve applications on a “first-come-first-served” basis, rather than using an “arbitrary” points system of “unachievable minority equity ownership goals”.
In addition, he said the body should “set a firm and transparent timeline” for online wagering, and release drafts of the application form, as well as accompanying regulations, immediately.
“Marylanders have grown frustrated waiting for mobile sports wagering as they have watched it become available in state after state across the country, including our neighboring jurisdictions of Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Washington DC,” Hogan added.
“I share their frustration, and I call upon you to immediately take the steps that I have outlined.”