Sports

Maryland nearing sports wagering debut with approval of licenses at 5 casinos

The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission approved licenses for five casinos in a step that brings the state closer to legal gambling on sports.

Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino, Live! Casino in Hanover, MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Ocean Downs Casino in Berlin and Hollywood Casino in Perryville were green-lighted by the commission on Thursday after receiving a go-ahead from the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.

The commission previously delayed the vote as some members said they are concerned about women and minority participation. Committee member Randy Marriner said they couldn’t wait any longer.

“It’s clear to me the public wants casino gambling, they want sports wagering,” Marriner said to the committee. “I think it’s our duty to do the job. Every day that we don’t pass … the state of Maryland is losing revenue because those gamblers are going to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, D.C. and not only doing sports wagering but while they’re there they’re spending money in the casino.”

Committee member Frank Turner said he wanted to wait until the other applicants could be considered as some of them are owned by women and minorities.

“I feel like we are moving to make this decision and we really should at least give some of those other companies an opportunity to be a part of this decision-making process that have not completed their application,” Turner told the committee.

Turner and Cassandra Stevenson voted against approving the five licenses.

‘“It would be in our best interests if, for no other reason but for perception only, to wait until some of these other applicants have been vetted by the lottery commission and so when it comes to our commission we now have a more diverse population and we are approving these licenses at the same time,” Stevenson said.

An additional 30 licenses for in-person betting and 60 mobile betting licenses are also approved.

Committee member Laura Gamble said mobile betting is where most of the money is spent.

“I personally think it will be best for the commission to be able to spend time figuring out how we’re going to get minority and females participating on the mobile side … because to me that sounds, based on what we’ve heard, where the best opportunities are for ownership and wealth building for the female and minority business owners to occur.”

Maryland voters approved sports wagering on the November 2020 ballot. Gov. Larry Hogan signed the bill into law earlier this year with the hopes that residents could be betting on games as soon as the NFL season started in September but that has not been the case.

Hogan has criticized the commission for moving too slowly on license approval. He said in a tweet Thursday, “We are pleased that the legislature’s sport(s) wagering commission has finally acted to approve these licenses. Our administration will continue to work to get sports betting up and running in Maryland as quickly as possible.”

This article was originally posted on Maryland nearing sports wagering debut with approval of licenses at 5 casinos