Maryland’s Sports Wagering Law
Maryland’s sports wagering laws are set forth in the Maryland Annotated Code at State Government Article, §§ 9-1E-01, et seq. (“Sports Wagering Law” or “SWL”). The enrolled version of HB 940 is available on the General Assembly’s website.
This page will be updated regularly as new information about the sports wagering program as it becomes available. For further information, please send an email to Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s Managing Director of Organizational Compliance James Butler, at email@example.com.
Sports Wagering Regulations
The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission approved proposed operational and licensing regulations for the sports wagering program on July 15, 2021. For additional information, click here.
Sports Wagering Licensing
The 17 entities named in the Sports Wagering Law are now able to submit applications for their licensing investigations. A date when other entities may submit their applications has not been determined. See the Sports Wagering Licensing page for additional information.
Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC)
Information on SWARC is available on the SWARC page of the Department of Legislative Services website.
Sports Wagering FAQ
The following are frequently asked questions about the Sports Wagering Law’s structure and licensing process:
How does a business become approved and licensed to offer sports wagering?
Each applicant is subject to a two-step process:
Step 1: Review by the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC)
SWL § 9-1E-15 authorizes the creation of the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) which will review all potential sports wagering applicants and award licenses based on criteria to be set forth in regulations. To the extent permitted by federal and state law, SWARC will actively seek to achieve racial, ethnic and gender diversity when approving applicants. Other criteria used to determine which applicants are approved must still be developed, and may include business plans and physical location.
SWARC is an independent body, separate from either the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency or Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission, though Maryland Lottery and Gaming and Department of Legislative Services staff will assist the SWARC with its work. SWARC consists of seven members – three appointed by the Governor, two by the Maryland Senate and two by the Maryland House of Delegates.
Step 2: Sports wagering license background investigation by Maryland Lottery and Gaming
Applications awarded by SWARC will be referred to Maryland Lottery and Gaming, which will conduct criminal and financial background investigations to determine whether the applicants are qualified to be issued a sports wagering license.
What is Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s role in sports wagering?
In addition to conducting licensing background investigations and issuing sports wagering licenses, Maryland Lottery and Gaming will serve as regulator of the state’s sports wagering market. MLGCA staff will promulgate and enforce sports wagering operational and licensing regulations. Agency staff will also monitor sports wagering revenues and contributions to the state and report those figures regularly. MLGCA will also establish and maintain a voluntary exclusion program for sports wagering.
What sports wagering locations are specifically identified in the Sports Wagering Law?
The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) is required to award 17 licenses to entities that are specified in SWL § 9-1E-06(a) if they apply. Those businesses, which are listed below, include casinos, professional sports stadiums, horse racing tracks, off-track betting facilities and bingo halls with at least 200 electronic instant bingo machines.
These locations must pass background investigations before Maryland Lottery and Gaming can issue a license.
The following locations were specified in the Sports Wagering Law:
- MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill
- Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover
- Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore City
- M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore City
- Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore City
- FedEx Field in Landover
- Potential A-1 licensees include the owner (or designee of the owner) of any future National Basketball Association, National Hockey League or Major League Soccer franchise that leases a stadium in Maryland
- Ocean Downs Casino in Berlin
- Hollywood Casino in Perryville
- Rocky Gap Casino in Flintstone
- Laurel Park Race Track in Laurel and Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore City (sharing a single license)
Class B (Both B-1 and B-2)
- Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium
- Bingo World in Baltimore (Anne Arundel County)
- Rod-n-Reel in Chesapeake Beach
- Jockey Bar and Grill in Boonsboro
- Greenmount Station in Hampstead
- Long Shot’s in Frederick
- Riverboat on the Potomac in Colonial Beach, Va. (located in Maryland waters of the Potomac River)
Who are the members of the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission? (updated 7/30/21)
The following individuals have been named to the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC):
- Thomas M. Brandt Jr., Chair
- Laura Gamble
- Bert J. Hash, Jr.
- Rosie Allen-Herring
- E. Randolph Marriner
- Casandra Stevenson
- Frank Turner
Further information on SWARC is available on the SWARC page of the Department of Legislative Services website.
Has the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission adopted sports wagering regulations? (updated 9/30/21)
Yes. The Sports Wagering Law requires the MLGCC to regulate sports wagering “to the same extent” that it regulates casino gaming. Regulations were approved by the MLGCC on July 15, 2021, and were approved by the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) on August 5, 2021.
As of AELR’s approval, the regulations were promulgated on an emergency basis. The regulations were published in the Maryland Register on August 27, 2021, and a 30-day public comment period ran from August 27 through September 27. To view the regulations, click here (see pages 718-781). A public meeting on the regulations was held on September 22, 2021. Click here to listen to an audio recording of the meeting. Click here to view written comments received during the public comment period.
When can businesses begin applying to SWARC and applying to Maryland Lottery and Gaming for a sports wagering license? (updated 9/14/21)
On Sept. 14, 2021, the 17 locations named in the Sports Wagering Law were provided with access to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) eLicensing platform and may begin using this online system to submit applications for their licensing investigations. At its Aug. 16, 2021 meeting, the SWARC voted unanimously that for the 17 locations named in the law, the MLGCC’s qualification standards are sufficient for SWARC to award licenses.
For other applicants (Class B-1 and B-2 facilities that are not named in the law and mobile operators), SWARC must adopt regulations governing the evaluation of applicants, such as requirements to include a business plan, and to describe MBE participation through equity, employment and/or purchasing.
MLGCC will conduct background investigations and verify qualifications of all applicants. All applicants are required to pay for these investigations.
Updates on the timeline will be provided on this page when they become available. Additional information is available on the Sports Wagering Licensing page.
When can potential facility or mobile licensees begin advertising that they will offer sports wagering? (updated 8/5/21)
Potential facility and mobile licensees are not prohibited from advertising their intent to offer sports wagering at a future date. However, no applicant is guaranteed to receive a sports wagering license, and timelines are uncertain. MLGCC requires that all advertising must include the appropriate messaging regarding responsible gaming and underage wagering.
When can businesses begin hiring sports wagering staff? (updated 8/5/21)
Potential sports wagering facility operators are not prohibited from hiring staff for possible sports wagering positions. However, applicants that do not presently hold gaming licenses are not guaranteed to receive a sports wagering license, and timelines are uncertain. Samples of the required applications will be posted to the Sports Wagering Licensing page in August to help applicants gather the required documentation in preparation for completing the eLicensing application. Individuals who currently have Maryland gaming licenses will be able to fill an equivalent sports wagering position without further licensing after notifying MLGCC.
Potential contractor and facility or online wagering operator licensees do not require approval by the SWARC to be licensed by the MLGCC. These businesses may hire sports wagering staff and direct them to apply for a sports wagering license as soon as MLGCC’s eLicensing system is made available for sports wagering licenses. Other applicants may hire staff, and will be able to access the eLicensing system after the SWARC opens the application process.
When can facilities begin acquiring equipment necessary for sports wagering? (updated 8/5/21)
Potential facility licensees are not prohibited from acquiring sports wagering equipment. However, no applicant is guaranteed to receive a sports wagering license, and timelines are uncertain. Equipment must be provided by a company that receives a gaming license, and must pass testing by an approved testing laboratory before it can be placed into service. Equipment may not be placed in public areas until the facility has been issued a sports wagering license.
In addition to the locations named in the Sports Wagering Law, what other locations can apply for a sports wagering license?
SWL § 9-1E-06(a)(2) allows for up to 30 additional Class B sports wagering facilities, with the following provisions regarding their physical locations:
- Provision 1: Class B facilities are prohibited within a 15-mile radius of the three Class A-2 casinos (Rocky Gap Casino, Hollywood Casino, Ocean Downs Casino).
- Provision 2: Class B facilities are prohibited within a 1.5-mile radius of Class A locations in counties that are not described in Provision 1. In addition, Class B facilities may not be located within a 1.5-mile radius of one another.
What are the differences between the two types of Class A licenses and the two types of Class B licenses?
- Class A-1: Casinos with more than 1,000 video lottery terminals; and the owner (or designee) of professional major league sports franchises or stadiums in Maryland.
- Class A-2: Casinos with fewer than 1,000 video lottery terminals; and Pimlico and Laurel horse racing tracks.
- Class B-1: Businesses with 25 or more equivalent full-time employees; or any business that has more than $3 million in annual gross receipts.
- Class B-2: Businesses with 24 or fewer equivalent full-time employees; or any business that has less than $3 million in annual gross receipts.
Will sports wagering be available online or on mobile devices?
SWL § 9-1E-06(a)(1) allows for up to 60 mobile/online wagering licensees. All mobile sports wagering applicants must be approved by SWARC and meet Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s licensing requirements.
Will sports wagering facilities allow customers to place bets via Wi-Fi? (updated 8/5/21)
The Sports Wagering Law clearly defines mobile wagering as a separate license category with a different licensing fee than Class A and Class B brick-and-mortar locations. Class A and Class B locations will not be permitted to allow customers to place wagers using their personal devices because that would be considered mobile wagering. However, in-house only Wi-Fi betting will be permitted on portable devices provided to customers by Class A and Class B facilities. These devices must:
- Operate on the facility’s in-house Wi-Fi network with no access from the external internet
- Operate only on the designated wagering floor, which is not open to minors
- Require the creation of a user account with appropriate know-your-customer (KYC) verification
What are the application fees?
SWL § 9-1E-06(b) specifies the application fee each applicant for a sports wagering license must pay. The application fee must be submitted with the application, is non-refundable, and varies by classification:
- Class A-1: $2 million
- Class A-2: $1 million
- Class B-1: $250,000
- Class B-2: $50,000
- Mobile/online: $500,000
How will the application fees be used by the state?
5% of the license application fees paid by Class A applicants will go to the Small, Minority-Owned, and Women-Owned Business Sports Wagering Assistance Fund, which was established in SWL § 9-1E-16. The fund will assist these businesses in entering the sports wagering market. The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission will also be permitted to use some of the application fees to cover costs associated with launching sports wagering in Maryland. All remaining license application fees will be deposited into the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund.
Aside from the application fee, what other costs are there for applicants?
Each sports wagering applicant must reimburse Maryland Lottery and Gaming for the cost of its sports wagering licensing background investigation. These costs will vary widely based upon the complexity of each applicant’s personal or business finances.
Are sports wagering operators required to maintain a reserve? (updated 8/5/21)
Yes. Regulations establish a minimum reserve requirement of $500,000 in cash or cash equivalents for all facility and mobile operators to ensure that they are always able to pay all winners. Additional language in the regulations requires licensees to have reserves sufficient to cover the liability for any wagers they accept. Licensees can use cash, letters of credit or bonds for this purpose.
Are all brick-and-mortar locations required to provide office space for MLGCC staff or a dedicated cage/count room? (updated 8/5/21)
As indicated in the regulations, accommodations will be made to help smaller licensees meet space and infrastructure requirements that are in line with the space available in their facilities. Small facilities need not provide dedicated office space.
What is the duration of a sports wagering license? What are the renewal fees?
The term of each license is five years. The renewal fee will be 1% of each sports wagering licensee’s average annual proceeds for the preceding three-year period, not including the 15% that is contributed to the state.
How much will sports wagering revenues contribute to the state? How will the money be used?
All sports wagering licensees in Maryland will pay 15% of the gross revenue from sports wagering to the state. Gross revenue is the amount wagered less federal excise taxes, less payouts on winning wagers. The funds contributed to the state will be used to support public education programs that are part of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund, under the control of the Comptroller of Maryland. Sports wagering licensees retain the remaining 85% of their gross revenue from sports wagering. We do not have revenue estimates at this time.
Will customers be permitted to make wagers using credit cards at brick-and-mortar facilities? (updated 8/5/21)
No. Wagers must be made with cash, checks or debit cards. Credit cards can be used to obtain a cash advance at sports wagering facilities.
Will customers be permitted to use credit cards on mobile wagering sites/apps? (updated 8/5/21)
Mobile sports wagering operators may accept credit cards to fund wagering accounts, which is a standard industry practice. Mobile operators are required to notify bettors if their credit card company considers funding a wagering account to be a cash advance, which is typically subject to higher fees and interest rates.
When will it be possible to place bets on games?
An exact date has not been determined. Some of the entities named in the Sports Wagering Law may have their brick-and-mortar sports wagering operations up and running during the fall of 2021. For a business that is not named in the Sports Wagering Law, the review by SWARC and a licensing background investigation could take between 12 and 24 months from May 2021.