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Applications open for mobile sports betting licenses as public comment period continues

Maryland regulators are moving forward with efforts to establish a mobile betting industry in the state. Stock.adobe.com photo by Koshiro.

As the application process got underway this week for business owners to enter the mobile sports betting industry in Maryland, state regulators are accepting public comments on proposed regulations to guide licensure.

The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission held a 30-minute public hearing Friday but heard from mainly one person: Arthur Robinson, the CEO of Full Circle Solutions in Baltimore.

Robinson’s testimony focused on persuading the commission to allow a $500,000 application fee for mobile licenses to be refundable. The regulations currently state that and other fees are nonrefundable when an organization applies, provisions the legislature approved last year.

“Fees should be refunded if a license is not granted. This seems unfair,” Robinson said.

Robinson also said a section in proposed regulations about efforts to solicit and interview minority and women-owned investors should be required.

“The language ‘if applicable in efforts’ doesn’t seem to make it a requirement,” he said.

The commission approved a diversity requirement last Friday for companies awarded a mobile license, which must then submit a plan that includes strategies to achieve diversity. That process, however, is retroactive and can be done within 30 days after licensure approval.

In the meantime, applicants have until Oct. 21 to apply for one of the 60 mobile sports licenses and up to 30 Class B licenses, which are smaller operations than larger casino-based sportsbooks. The commission began accepting applications Tuesday.

Those approved will go through another round of background checks that could take up to 45 days.

Because of this timeline, it’s possible mobile sports betting could happen near the end of this year’s NFL regular season in December, but that depends on approval from SWARC and the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission, which oversees the sports waging industry.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has pressed for mobile wagering to launch before the NFL regular season that began Thursday.

“After having to overcome numerous bureaucratic hurdles from the legislature’s commission, we’re finally seeing some progress on mobile betting,” he posted on his Twitter page Tuesday. “I am going to keep holding everyone’s feet to the fire until this is up and running. Marylanders have waited long enough.”

Meanwhile, the public comment period on the SWARC regulations can still be submitted in writing by Sept. 26.