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VERIFY: Yes, online sports betting in legal in Maryland, but it's not operational yet

With the NFL season kicking off there's some misinformation about where we stand with online sports betting in Maryland

MARYLAND, USA — On social media, lots of people are talking about how Maryland is lagging behind when it comes to online sports betting and will miss out on the NFL season.

Some people are claiming it's actually illegal in the state, while others say it's not up and running.



Is online sports betting legal in Maryland? Is it operational?



This is true.

Yes, online sports betting is legal in Maryland; however, it is not operational at this time. The state announced that people can submit an application for a license on Sept. 6


Our VERIFY researchers turned to Maryland law, and the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. It's one of the two groups that oversee sports wagering licenses, along with the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission

Both the law and agency confirm, yes, online and mobile sports betting is legal in the state. However, a spokesperson for the agency says it's not yet operational.

Here's a bit of the timeline:

Sports betting was signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan in May 2021. 

The first in-person sportsbook launched in December 2021. Since then, sports betting became available at MGM National Harbor, Live! Casino & Hotel, Horseshoe Casino, Ocean Downs Casino and Bingo World.

RELATED: Marylanders are betting for the first time on the Super Bowl. Here's who they put their money on

Fast forward nine months and applications for online sports betting licenses are just now being accepted. 

The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) opened the application process on Sept. 6, and those seeking a license have until Oct. 21 to apply.

"After having to overcome numerous bureaucratic hurdles from the legislature’s commission, we’re finally seeing some progress on mobile betting," Governor Larry Hogan tweeted on Sept. 6. "I am going to keep holding everyone’s feet to the fire until this is up and running. Marylanders have waited long enough."

As for why there was such a delay in getting online sports betting up and running— there were a few regulatory hurdles.

Under the law, the state had to first evaluate how to award licenses for online betting, to make sure the industry is diverse.

"Maryland's sports wagering law created the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) and authorized SWARC to conduct a competitive process to award mobile licenses," a spokesperson for Maryland Lottery and Gaming said. "Before SWARC was permitted to accept applications, the sports wagering law required SWARC to wait for a state consultant to complete a sports wagering industry analysis to determine whether, and to what extent, SWARC could include race- or gender-conscious criteria in its evaluation of applicants. Because the analysis dealt with legal matters, it took significant time to complete."

According to a letter written by SWARC Chair Thomas Brandt, the committee was informed on August 19 that the analysis had been completed.

On top of that SWARC had to have its regulations approved by a government committee (the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive & Legislative Review) before SWARC could open applications to the public.

The letter requesting approval was dated Aug. 26, and approval came on Sept. 2 according to a press release.

RELATED: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan calls on commission to fast-track mobile sports betting

As for when online sports betting could be operational, a spokesperson for the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency said they're focused on having it "launched by the end of 2022."

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