Red Tape Spoiling the Party in Maryland

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A general view of a Baltimore Ravens football helmet. Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP.

When the citizens vote overwhelmingly to pass a bill and the governor signs it into law, one would expect the thing to which everyone wants, would – you know – happen. Ah, but not when bureaucracy is involved. Government committees are routinely comprised of politicians and bureaucrats who don’t know much about the topic but know the right people to appoint them as “experts” on said topic.

And now Governor Larry Hogan is learning firsthand that it takes more than being the head honcho to get the job done in a state whose committee members are more concerned about looking good than executing the will of the people. Sports betting has already been voted on and legislated in Maryland but that doesn’t mean it’s been rolled out.

There are 22 retail locations across the state all set to make books, but all they can do is sit and wait patiently while the intelligentsia sitting on Maryland’s sports betting commission continues to dawdle. They say it is to be absolutely certain that there has been an equitable distribution of sports betting licenses, including minority-owned businesses.

Legal bookmakers are a rather esoteric consortium. It’s not like you can suddenly jump into the game without understanding the industry, even if the committee feels you qualify because of the color of your skin or the fact that you declare yourself being any other gender than male. Few, if any, other states have had the same delays as Maryland, and it is not as though they don’t have operators champing at the bit to take action.

“On sports betting, it’s a very frustrating situation. Obviously, the voters overwhelmingly voted for sports betting,” said Governor Hogan. “They passed a law which they now seem to be ignoring.”

“As far as we’re concerned, they should have been taking bets,” added Hogan.

Democratic state Sen. Cory McCray of Baltimore disagreed and said it’s all about the process.

“The new disparity study has to be done at this moment, and making sure that minorities turn to the arena and a very fair playing ground,” said McCray.

Rob Norton, of Cordish Gaming and Live Casinos, is not surprisingly siding with the governor on this issue as evidenced by his remark, “They’re very excited to get ready with sports betting. They’re telling us they’re tired of driving over to DC, Delaware, and Virginia to place their bets. So, we’re interested in getting started and the customers are expressing their interest in getting started.”

Reportedly this won’t be resolved until some time in January but even that’s not a sure bet. Having the sports betting machine up and running for the Super Bowl has been every sports betting state’s highest priority which would mean all systems would have to go, before Sunday, February 13th.

Until then, it’s anybody’s guess but the commission has to do what the commission has to do and Maryland bettors will just have to wait a little bit longer for it to be done.