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Mobile sports betting in Md. won’t be in place for start of NFL season

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu shows his receipt after placing the first legal sports wagering bet on his mobile phone in Manchester, New Hampshire, Dec. 30, 2019. Maryland is still finalizing its rules and license approval process for mobile sports betting. (AP File Photo/Charles Krupa)

Marylanders will not be able to place mobile bets on sporting events by September as Gov. Larry Hogan hoped.

The news comes as the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission Wednesday awarded two new licenses, including the first linked to a professional sports stadium and team in the state. The panel also voted to establish a 45-day window for reviewing applications for mobile sports betting licenses once those applications can be accepted.

“The public is clamoring to get this going,” said Randy Marriner, a commission member.

The panel initially discussed a 45-to-60-day window for reviewing mobile applications. Marriner said the range was “a workable window.” The commission approved a 45-day review period. 

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In June, Hogan, a Republican who is completing his second and final term as governor, called on gaming regulators to have mobile sports betting in the state when the NFL season opens on Sept. 8. 

“The governor laid out the timeline he did for a reason — because it was achievable if the legislature’s commission would show any kind of urgency whatsoever rather than hemming and hawing at every turn,” said Michael Ricci, a Hogan spokesman. “He will continue to hammer on everyone involved to get this up and running sooner rather than later.”

It is unclear when the first licenses could be issued but hitting Hogan’s deadline appears to be highly improbable. 

The commission has issued draft copies of mobile applications. It also proposed emergency regulations governing those applications. The proposed regulations await approval of a state legislative panel. Commission chairman Thomas Brandt said he hoped that panel would approve the regulations “in the coming days.”

The joint Administrative, Legislative and Executive Review Committee has no scheduled meetings as of yet for the remainder of August nor September. 

Some commissioners worried delays could push the first mobile sports bets to the Super Bowl or beyond. 

Commissioners on the panel Wednesday did vote to approve two new gaming licenses including the first connected to a professional sports team in Maryland as well as a Western Maryland off track betting site.

The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission Wednesday unanimously approved the application made by Maryland Stadium Sub LLC and its owner Daniel Snyder. The approval is the first of three potential licenses that could be issued to professional sports teams in the state.

“This one is a hard one for me because I’m a Ravens fan,” joked Thomas Brandt, chairman of the commission. 

The vote was not unexpected.

A week ago, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission found Snyder qualified to hold a license.

Snyder owns the Commanders and is the sole applicant for the license for his corporation Maryland Stadium Sub LLC. That company shares an address with the team’s stadium in Prince George’s County.

The lottery panel green-lighted his application despite “several noteworthy issues” involving the the football team and Snyder. Among those were a number of allegations of sexual harassment and a toxic workplace.

“Staff is unable to substantiate any of the allegations against Mr. Snyder,” according to the report to the gaming commission. “Furthermore, Mr. Snyder is not currently under investigation by any law enforcement agency or government entity for criminal-related matters.”

The commission’s public report does not outline specific allegations. Those allegations are the subject of a congressional probe. The NFL fined the team and ordered Snyder to step back from his daily operational duties.

The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission typically ratifies the lottery commission’s recommendations.

The vote Wednesday is a pivotal step in the process which now hinges on Snyder’s ability to meet final approval from gaming regulators. Those approvals include reviews of actual gaming operations as well as the physical location.

It also leaves open the possibility that the Commanders could offer sports wagering at its stadium when the team plays its home opener on Sept. 11.

The Maryland License is the second awarded to Snyder. Virginia awarded Snyder and FanDuel a sports betting license in April.

The stadium is one of more than a dozen guaranteed a sports betting license under state law.

Sixteen were guaranteed to go to 17 locations including: the state’s six casinos, the Laurel and Pimlico racetracks, and the Maryland State Fairgrounds. Some off-track betting sites, licensed bingo parlors and for the stadiums where the Orioles, Ravens and Commanders play were also guaranteed licenses.

The commission also voted to qualify applicants for a license to take sports bets at Boonsboro OTB in western Maryland.