The headline, beyond it jarring our senses, is actually factually correct. And if the powers that have hijacked the will of the voters in the state of Maryland have their way, perhaps as many as the next 12 or more months might have that exact same score in terms of how much these two states bring in on sports wagering dollars.
A day after reading that New Jersey just had its first month in which bettors had placed more than $1 billion in sports wagers, an industry website legalsportsreport.com has a piece about how Maryland’s efforts to open at least three of the state’s major casinos for business have come to a screeching halt. The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission was set to host its third meeting on Oct. 14 but suddenly postponed the meeting without any reason being given.
It was expected that the Maryland’s big three casinos — Horseshoe Casino, Live! Casino & Hotel and MGM National Harbor — might have their retail applications approved at this meeting. All through this process it had been the consensus opinion of those in the know that initial wagers would take place at bricks-and-mortar facilities by late fall 2021.
Now that the SWARC has walked away from this process without rescheduling its next meeting, the conjecture is that there is really no end in sight. It seems that the nearly 70 percent of Maryland voters who thought they were going to have their voices heard have instead had their voices silenced by an attempt to hijack this legislative opportunity.
The SWARC has been mandated by the legislature to ensure minority and women-owned businesses had the opportunity to participate in the sports gambling landscape when awarding licenses. The SWARC has slowed to a crawl in working with the legitimate gaming engines of the state — Horseshoe, Live! and MGM.
The SWARC has the ability to give the voters and general public what it wants: the right to walk into a bricks-and-mortar gaming venue and plop down a wager or two or three. Sure, the state needs to have a vetting process in place to make sure wagering machinery is on the up and up and that sports fans have some measuring sticks on the integrity of their wagers and chances to win.
That seems fair for new kids on the block, but the gaming concerns in this state have already been vetted and passed muster. It must be added here that tax revenue from those big three casinos are a major contributor to the state budget.
If the SWARC doesn’t see a clear path to allowing the state’s partners that bring so much to the state coffers into the sports betting lane, what could the possible justification be for that? Why slow-play those already knee-deep in this world of gaming from opening their doors to the will of the voters?
Apparently, the SWARC is taking the snail’s-pace view that it’s somehow necessary to only open up the state to taking wagers when all the new licensees have been vetted. The SWARC is overseeing of the awarding of 30 Class B licenses and 60 mobile licenses in addition to 12 Class A licenses (casinos, race tracks and pro sports facilities).
While the SWARC’s mandate calls upon it to do right by minority- and women-owned businesses, it doesn’t mandate that it turn the process into an embarrassment and stand in the way of what the voters voted for just about a year ago.
Recently, Governor Hogan tweeted out the suggestion to those in-limbo sports bettors to contact SWARC members about their displeasure:
If like me, you are more than a bit annoyed, it seems Governor Hogan’s suggestion is a good first step to try and light a bit of a fire under the SWARC’s feet and at least allow Maryland’s big three casinos the ability to start taking bets during this football season. This delay makes absolutely no sense to anyone.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Meadowlands Racetrack