SWARC's approval

Maryland: Bingo World cleared to become 9th retail sportsbook, paves the way for RSI's entry

Bingo World hall in Maryland.
United States
Reading time 1:53 min

Maryland bingo hall, Bingo World, was approved Wednesday to become the state’s ninth retail sportsbook. At its latest meeting, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) voted unanimously in favor of granting the Brooklyn Park facility a sports betting license. The approval marks the completion of the third step of a four-step process in a sportsbook launch.

Bingo World was approved last month by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission by a 6-1 margin. After SWARC’s decision, the application is now headed back to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission, which will look over the day-to-day aspects of the business. Provided the company’s operational procedures are approved, the license will be issued. 

Bingo World also announced that it would be partnering with Rush Street Interactive (RSI) to run the sports betting operation. 

With Bingo World greenlit to take the next step towards getting its license, there are four applications in the final instance of the process. Last December, SWARC approved three off-track betting facilities in Frederick, Hampstead and a riverboat in Maryland waters. 

When sports betting became legal in April 2021, the bill designated 17 facilities for retail sportsbooks. The legislation listed Bingo World as one of them, along with the five casinos and three off-track betting facilities previously licensed by the state. 

All of the locations listed were exempt from the first step of the application process, a point in which the SWARC determines if it is in the public’s best interest to give the entity a license. The committee also takes geographic factors into account when deciding. 

As the state awaits for online sports wagering to launch, Maryland regulators have kickstarted a key process to set it into motion. In a Wednesday update to the SWARC, Assistant Attorney General David Stamper said a new disparity study is underway. 

This study will determine whether the SWARC needs to make an added effort to include minority-and women-owned businesses in the sports betting industry. 

“It was an informative time today. As we await the results of the disparity study, the focus will be on education and drafting of applications without presuming the outcome of the study”, SWARC Chairman Tomas Brandt said, as reported by Southern Maryland Chronicle

Taft Stettinius & Hollister Attorney Kimberly Copp said the law firm received 11 responses to the informational survey it released in January. The survey was sent to 39 US sports betting companies and posted online. The responses came from four “significant, publicly traded” operators, three “mid-size” operators and four “new entrants or startups”.

Copp said all respondents believe the market should dictate whether it needs all 60 mobile licenses provided in the legislation. Several respondents believe existing businesses in Maryland should receive priority.

Taft will publish the results on the SWARC website. An in-person educational event will be held late April or early May. 

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