Maryland Sports Wagering

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 with new information about the sports wagering program as it becomes available. For further information about the law, please send an email to Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s Assistant Deputy Director James Butler, at jbutler@maryland.gov.

Sports Wagering Regulations

The operational and licensing regulations for Maryland’s sports wagering program are found in COMAR Title 36, Subtitle 10. 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 interested in applying 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 the SWARC is available at swarc.org and on the Maryland Manual website. The SWARC’s meetings are live streamed via the Maryland General Assembly’s website.

Catalog of Approved Events and Wagers

Maryland Lottery and Gaming maintains a catalog of events and wager types that are approved for use by licensed sports wagering operators. Click here to download an Excel file of the catalog (Last updated May 18, 2022).

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 authorized the creation of the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) which will review all potential sports wagering applications and award licenses based on criteria to be set forth in regulations by the SWARC. 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

Applicants selected by the 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?

Maryland Lottery and Gaming conducts criminal and financial background investigations of sports wagering applicants to determine if they demonstrate the integrity and financial stability to be qualified to conduct sports wagering operations. In addition, Maryland Lottery and Gaming serves as regulator of the state’s sports wagering market. MLGCA staff promulgated and enforces sports wagering operational regulations and regulations pertaining to licensing qualifications. Agency staff also monitor sports wagering revenues and contributions to the state and report those figures monthly. The MLGCA will also establish and maintain a voluntary exclusion program for sports wagering.

When can businesses begin applying to SWARC and applying to Maryland Lottery and Gaming for a sports wagering license? (updated 9/14/21)

At its Aug. 16, 2021 meeting, the SWARC voted unanimously that for the 17 entities named in the law, the MLGCC’s qualification standards are sufficient for the SWARC to award licenses. On Sept. 14, 2021, the 17 entities named in the Sports Wagering Law were provided with access to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) eLicensing platform to begin using this online system to submit applications for their licensing investigations.

For other applicants (Class B-1 and B-2 facilities that are not named in the law and mobile operators), which are to be selected through a competitive process, the SWARC must adopt regulations governing what the applicant must submit as part of their application package and the evaluation criteria it will use to select successful 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.

What is involved in the background investigations that Maryland Lottery and Gaming conducts to determine if a business is qualified for a sports wagering license? (updated 3/4/22)

Maryland Lottery and Gaming conducts criminal and extensive financial background investigations of all applicants for sports wagering facility or mobile licenses, sports wagering facility or mobile operators and sports wagering contractors to determine if they possess the requisite honesty, integrity, good character and financial stability to be licensed. These investigations probe deeply into the finances of each business that seeks a license. Individuals and entities that hold 5% or more beneficial ownership in a business that seeks a license are regarded as “principal entities” and “institutional investors” and are subject to similar investigations in conjunction with the investigation of the business itself. Examples of the documents that applicants must file are available on the Sports Wagering Licensing page at mdgaming.com.

How does Maryland Lottery and Gaming process sports wagering license applications? (updated 10/29/21)

It depends on the type of license you apply for, but MLGCA staff (“staff”) generally processes applications for sports-wagering-related licenses the same way it does casino-related licenses.

For each licensee, staff accepts the license application and fee, and conducts a background investigation to ensure the applicant meets qualifications requirements. The next steps vary depending on the kind of license being sought. For specific licensing questions, please contact Director of Regulatory Licensing and Investigations Phil Metz at philip.metz@maryland.gov.

Here is an overview of what staff does for each kind of application:

For sports wagering facility licenses and mobile sports wagering licenses:

After finishing the background investigation, staff makes a recommendation to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (“MLGCC”) about whether the applicant is qualified, and then presents the recommendation at an MLGCC hearing. The MLGCC decides if the applicant is qualified, and notifies the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (“SWARC”) of its decision. If the SWARC awards a license to the applicant, staff can issue the license after determining that the applicant meets technical and operational requirements specified in regulation and is ready to start conducting sports wagering.

For sports wagering facility operator partners and online operator partners: 

After finishing the background investigation, staff makes a recommendation to the MLGCC about whether the applicant is qualified, and then presents the recommendation at an MLGCC hearing. The MLGCC determines if the applicant is qualified. Facility and online operator partners do not go before the SWARC, so staff can issue the license after determining that the applicant meets technical and operational requirements specified in regulation and is ready to start conducting sports wagering.

For sports wagering contractors, principal employees, sports wagering employees and non-sports wagering employees:

After finishing the background investigation and finding that the applicant meets all qualification requirements, staff can issue the license. If staff determines the applicant does not meet all qualification requirements, staff will bring the applicant before the MLGCC for a hearing. These categories of licenses do not require approval by the SWARC.

For principal entities:

These are people or entities that either own 5% or more of the applicant; or have a controlling interest in the entity. Licenses are not issued to principal entities, but they must meet all qualification requirements, just like a licensee.

After finishing the background investigation, staff can determine that the applicant meets all qualification requirements. This category of license does not require approval by the SWARC.

Principal entities can also be institutional investors, like banks. They can ask staff for an “institutional investor waiver,” and can be found qualified without a complete investigation. This is permitted because institutional investors do not participate in the operation of the company they invest in, and do not exert any control.

For vendors:

Vendors do certain kinds of business with casinos or sports wagering licensees and are not required to be licensed. Instead, staff “registers” or “certifies” vendors based on the dollar amount of annual totals of casino- or sports-wagering-related work they do. Vendors include businesses like suppliers of food and beverages.

What should applicants expect after submitting their sports wagering license applications? (updated 11/9/21)

Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s licensing investigation process is extensive and typically involves repeated communications between applicants and investigators. Applicants must submit all material that is requested, and investigators will ensure that applicants are aware of any missing information. Investigations cannot be completed until applicants have provided all requested information. State Government Article § 9-1E-07 requires that applicants for sports wagering licenses establish by clear and convincing evidence that they are fully qualified before the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission issues a license.

What are controlled demonstrations, and how do they work? (updated 12/2/21)

Prior to their public openings, all sports wagering facilities must conduct at least two days of controlled demonstrations, which include live wagering and are, essentially, a soft launch of sports wagering operations. The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA) staff are on-site during all controlled demonstrations to ensure that all systems perform as required and that operational and revenue reporting controls are effective. 

 

Licensees must provide the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) with a proposal regarding the scope of their controlled demonstrations at least 14 days prior to the public opening of sports wagering operations. The two controlled demonstration days must each include eight hours of wagering and may not be held on consecutive dates. The public opening may be delayed if the facility fails to achieve objectives and acceptable regulatory compliance during the second day. Controlled demonstration dates and opening dates are subject to the MLGCA’s approval. 

 

MLGCA staff will be in frequent communication with each facility to coordinate and schedule its controlled demonstration and will provide a regulatory review checklist. This checklist will be used for evaluating operations during controlled demonstrations, but will not be the sole evaluation tool. The controlled demonstration will be deemed successful if there has been:

  • Compliance with all MLGCC regulations
  • Observed efficiency, service and fairness in the treatment of guests
  • Accurate financial accounting of the wagering activity
  • Technical success of sports wagering systems

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:

Class A-1

  • 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
  • Note: Additional Class A-1 licensees may be awarded to the owner (or designee of the owner) of any future National Basketball Association, National Hockey League or Major League Soccer franchise that owns or leases a stadium in Maryland

Class A-2

  • 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)

In addition to the locations named in the Sports Wagering Law, what other locations can apply for a sports wagering license? (updated 4/13/22)

SWL § 9-1E-06(a)(2) allows for up to 30 additional Class B sports wagering facilities to be selected through a competitive process managed by the SWARC, 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 that are not described in Provision 1. In addition, Class B facilities may not be located within a 1.5-mile radius of another Class B facility.

Legislative Update

A bill passed during the 2022 Maryland General Assembly session (HB942) made the following amendments to the exclusion zones described above. Pending the bill’s approval by the Governor, these provisions will become effective on July 1, 2022.

HB942 extends the exclusion zones around three of the Class B facilities that were designated in the sports wagering law:

  • The sports wagering facility exclusion zone will be extended to a 15-mile radius around Riverboat on the Potomac in Charles County.
  • The sports wagering facility exclusion zone will be extended to a 10-mile radius around Greenmount Station in Hampstead.
  • The sports wagering facility exclusion zone will be extended to a 5-mile radius around Long Shot’s in Frederick.

In addition, HB942 specifies that the 15-mile exclusion zone around Rocky Gap Casino in Allegany County will not be enforced before the casino has been issued a sports wagering facility license. Applicants will be permitted to apply for Class B-1 or Class B-2 licenses for facilities within 15 miles of Rocky Gap Casino, and may be issued such licenses, as long as Rocky Gap Casino has not been issued a sports wagering facility license.

Click here to view a map that shows the locations that were designated in the law and the current exclusion zones around them. The map does not show the exclusion zone amendments that will be made in accordance with HB942. The map will be updated accordingly when the bill takes effect. Use the search bar in the upper right portion of the screen, above the map, to enter an address to see whether it is located in an exclusion zone.

Prior to submitting their applications, will businesses be informed if their facilities are located in an exclusion zone? (updated 4/13/22)

Yes. Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff will review the locations of prospective applicants for sports wagering facility licenses and will inform them if their business is within an exclusion zone. Application fees and documents necessary for licensing qualification background investigations will not be accepted from facilities that are located within exclusion zones.

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 the SWARC’s members is available at swarc.org.

Has the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission adopted sports wagering regulations? (updated 1/13/22)

Yes. Operational and licensing regulations were approved by the MLGCC on July 15, 2021, and were approved on an emergency basis by the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) on August 5, 2021.

The regulations became fully promulgated and effective on January 13, 2022 (click here to view COMAR Title 36, Subtitle 10).

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 are not guaranteed to receive a sports wagering license, and timelines are uncertain. Samples of the required applications are available on the Sports Wagering Licensing page 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. Other applicants may hire staff, and will be able to access the eLicensing system after the SWARC opens the application process for the competitive licenses.

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 holds a Maryland sports wagering or 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 approved by the MLGCA shortly before the facility opens.

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 licenses to be selected through a competitive process managed by the SWARC. In addition to being approved by the SWARC, mobile applicants must 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

Additionally, applicants must pay for the MLGCC’s investigatory costs.

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.

Is there financial assistance available for small businesses that are interested in becoming sports wagering licensees? (updated 4/25/22)

Yes. The sports wagering law established the Small, Minority-owned Business Sports Wagering Assistance Fund (SWAF) which is administered by the Maryland Department of Commerce. The fund will provide grants or loans to small or minority-owned businesses to be used for sports wagering license application fees, sports wagering operations, or targeted training to support participation in the sports wagering industry. For information and to inquire further, visit the SWAF page of the Department of Commerce website.

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.

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 has been set at 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 for the fully developed program at this time, but monthly revenue reports will be published on the Sports Wagering Revenue Reports page.

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.