A few of the tweaks are minor, but several may impact the state’s sports betting industry in a noticeable way, including the official implementation of recent legislative changes. The rules also include updates to keep pace with responsible gambling best practices.
Before becoming official, the proposed regulations are submitted to the state’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review. The regulations are subsequently published in the Maryland Register and subject to a 30-day public comment period.
Fifteen days after the public comment period ends, they can be adopted and published in the Maryland Register again. The rules become final 10 days after the second publication in the Maryland Register.
Risk-free language banned
Mobile sports betting operators have generally moved away from using the phrase “risk-free bet” and “free bet,” largely due to regulatory pressure in other states like Ohio and Massachusetts. Even with operators ditching the term nationwide, the proposed Maryland regulations “prohibit advertisements offering or suggesting guaranteed or risk-free gambling outcomes.”
A new regulation also requires that retail facilities need to include “conspicuous and readable” messaging providing information about the state’s voluntary exclusion program.
Also in July, legislation preventing Maryland universities from forming partnerships with sports betting companies — if the partnership includes financial bonus incentives for signups — went into effect. No Maryland universities have such deals, and PointsBet and the University of Maryland ended their partnership earlier this year.
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Much like the gradual elimination of risk-free language, colleges and operators also seem to be shying away from partnering together. The shift away from partnerships came after a New York Times story on the deals, as well as the American Gaming Association recommending operators and universities avoid such partnerships.
Handicapping audit details
Maryland’s regulatory alterations include basic information related to the state’s new handicapping audit system. Therein, the lottery can name independent evaluators who can partner with sportsbooks to audit the content provided by in-house or affiliated handicappers.
Chris Adams, the CEO of SharpRank, closely monitored the legislation as it moved through the General Assembly. Adams hopes SharpRank will become one of the independent evaluators working in Maryland, and he told Sports Handle previously that these audits are designed to check to see if handicappers are honest with their picks and overall records.
“The audit itself and the audit test itself have nothing to do with the performance of that handicapper,” Adams said.
Sports betting operators aren’t required to work with the evaluators, and it’s unclear how many operators will jump at the chance to receive a content audit.
Regulations stipulate that those independent evaluators can’t have revenue-sharing agreements with operators, aiming to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Each independent evaluator is also supposed to have an audit process constructed by in-house certified accounts.