After nearly a year of waiting, it seems that Maryland sports fans will finally be getting an answer as to when they can place legal wagers.
Sportsbooks For A Warm Winter
While the language remains purposefully vague, the state’s gaming director recently announced that legal sports betting will begin in “late fall or early winter.”
This news comes as licensing officials confirm that they are officially accepting sportsbook applications from eligible entities. For Maryland, this includes casinos, race tracks, and professional sports teams.
Maryland launched its digital licensing platform on September 14th. Since then, three potential sportsbooks have already submitted applications.
Licensing To Take Off
The licenses distributed in the coming months will only be temporary, as the state has yet to properly finalize MD sports betting rules. Additionally, the licenses are limited to retail sports betting facilities.
As of now, the state will only be accepting applications from gaming entities with clean background checks in Maryland or abroad.
This is because the state wants to get sports betting to its constituents as soon as possible. By opting to restrict initial applications to reputable gaming entities, officials will be able to expedite the licensing process.
However, some lawmakers feel that Maryland is being hasty to keep up with neighboring states and may land itself in hot water.
Legal Obstacles in Maryland
Florida and Arizona have been made notable in their pursuit of sports betting due to various lawsuits filed against them. Many of the legal complaints made against these states are over feelings of exclusion during the negotiation and licensing processes.
The head of Maryland’s House Economic Matters Committee recently made a few remarks on the situation:
“There’s no need to get cute or sloppy now. [We must] make sure that we’re fair to everyone, so we don’t end up in court.” – Del. Dereck E. Davis
While the choice of words may have felt abrasive, his point stands. Maryland has waited this long to get the ball rolling, there’s no need to involve itself in preventable dilemmas.
State officials are already catching flack from start-up sportsbooks for giving established commercial entities a leg up. Declan Hill, a professor and journalist, warns that the unfair advantage leaves a foul taste in the mouth of newbies in the industry.
“It’s unfair [to] a start-up company that’s trying to do things right, trying to cross their t’s and dot their i’s, if the big boys just come in and say, ‘Hey, no problem, Nevada’s already checked us out” – Declan Hill
Nonetheless, Arizona overcame a lawsuit that threatened to upend their industry just days before sportsbooks would be allowed to launch. Who is to say Maryland couldn’t do the same?
One thing that is for sure: the world of domestic sportsbooks is bound to get messy. Sports betting has always been legal in the US, but PASPA’s repeal opened Pandora’s Box. And the litigation will be endless.