Frustrated Maryland Governor Challenges Commission to Launch Mobile Betting by September

  • Gov. Hogan wants SWARC to award mobile sports betting licenses before the NFL starts
  • Hogan said SWARC has “needlessly delayed” Maryland benefitting from sports betting
  • He wants the body to set a “firm and transparent timeline” for betting implementation
  • Maryland’s five casinos have added nearly $2.7m to state coffers for the current fiscal year
Maryland flag with capitol building
Marylanders hoping to bet via mobile phone might get their wish by the start of this season’s NFL, should the SWARC heed a new call to urgency from Governor Larry Hogan. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Pulling no punches

Fed up with state bureaucracy, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has drawn a line in the sand, scathingly and publicly calling on the legislature’s Sports Wagering and Application Review Commission (SWARC) to approve mobile sports betting by September 8.

mired in overly bureaucratic procedures.”

In a letter written to the SWARC on Tuesday, the governor said it had allowed the betting progress to “stagnate and become mired in overly bureaucratic procedures.” Via Twitter on Wednesday, Hogan shared his letter to the SWARC, saying he’d urged the committee to “take immediate actions.”

Hogan added that the indecisiveness around the current state of affairs was apposite to what voters went to the ballots for, and that SWARC had “needlessly delayed the state’s ability to maximize the revenue potential of this emerging industry.”

Hogan wants the SWARC to take immediate action by awarding retail mobile licenses to the operators already qualified via the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA).

Neighbor envy

In his letter, Hogan expressed his constituents’ frustration at watching mobile sports wagering launch in Pennsylvania (2019), Virginia (2021), West Virginia (2018), and Washington DC (2020).

still not defined a clear pathway or timeline for mobile sports wagering

Gov. Hogan said that the SWARC has still not defined a clear pathway or timeline for mobile sports wagering implementation, deeming this “simply inexcusable” over a year after sports betting bill HB 940 received the governor’s signature.

Ahead of the SWARC’s Thursday meeting, Hogan gave the committee a list of demands, which included prioritizing mobile wagering licenses and setting a “firm and transparent timeline” for implementation so Marylanders and those in the gambling industry can track its progress.

Hogan also urged the SWARC to release a draft of the application process for a mobile sports wagering license, along with the regulations, so that the sports betting industry can “start preparing comments, materials, and responses.”

The current state of play

Currently, bettors can place in-person wagers at Maryland casinos Hollywood Casino Perryville, Horseshoe Baltimore, Live! Casino in Hanover, MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, and Ocean Downs Casino in Berlin.

According to a report from the MLGCA last week, these five casinos have topped up the state’s coffers by nearly $2.7m in the current fiscal year.

That said, Hogan believes mobile sports betting will prove dominant in Maryland, with 80-90% of all bets made via a mobile phone. The ongoing delay, he said, “is preventing Maryland from fully and properly tapping into this market.”