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Md. mobile sports betting licenses outnumber applicants with deadline nearing

Maryland has more mobile gaming licenses than applicants as a deadline draws near for those who want in on mobile sports betting in the state.

As of Wednesday, the state has received 10 mobile sports wagering license applications. Another 10 applied for a sports wagering operator license.

A total of 60 mobile licenses — considered to be the most lucrative — are available on a competitive basis. However, if fewer than 60 applicants apply and are qualified the commission will likely award them on a rolling first-in, first-out basis.

An additional 30 licenses for physical locations are also available. So far, the state has received just one application for a physical sports book location.

“I think that order of magnitude is consistent with what we’ve been led to expect as to the volume of mobile licenses in Maryland,” said Thomas Brandt, chairman of the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission. “The door is still open for a few more days.”

Operators typically are sports book companies such as FanDuel, DraftKings, BetFred and William Hill that partner with licensees. The operators manage the licensed sports book and set odds.

In recent months, state gaming regulators have approved operator licenses for FanDuel, which is partnering with Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder, and BetFred, which is partnering with Long Shots, an off-track betting facility in Frederick.

John Mooney, managing director of regulatory oversight for the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, described the lot of applications received so far as “paired.”

By law, the applicants are not named until they are qualified by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission.

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State lottery and gaming officials will need to qualify applicants for the licenses. Hearings for the 21 applicants will be held by lottery and gaming officials on Oct. 27.

The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission will also have to approve the licenses. That could begin to happen as soon as the commission’s next meeting, which is scheduled for Nov. 21.

“We are licensing people to do business for a long time in our state, and our hope is these are viable people with good technology and the appropriate capital to be engaged in sports wagering,” Brandt said. “So this is our chance to look at what’s come our way and be prepared to act on that.”

These licenses are in addition to the 17 so-called anointed licensees guaranteed in state law. Those include the state’s six casinos, Pimlico and Laurel race courses, the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, the three professional sports stadiums, and several off-track betting parlors and bingo halls.

It is expected that bigger gaming operations, including the state’s casinos, will apply for a mobile license, which is separate from a permit to operate a physical sports book.

Applicants undergo a number of reviews and approvals from state lottery and gaming officials, as well as the commission. Applicants with gaming licenses in Maryland or a comparable state would go through a streamlined alternative process.

Applicants have until the close of business Friday to apply for a license. All applicants must use the state’s online portal. Additional documentation is due following the online submission.

In other states, a sizable portion of applicants file at the deadline. Consultants to the commission said they expect Maryland to follow that pattern.

“I would expect a few more to come in based on conversations in the industry,” said Kimberly Copp, an attorney at the Chicago-based Taft law firm and a consultant to the commission. 

The law firm will analyze applications and provide side-by-side comparisons of each to the commission.