Maryland Advancing Towards Gambling Legalization
Maryland is taking a step towards legalizing mobile sports betting. In the past couple of weeks, a bill that would make this possible has gained approval at both Committee and the House level. It is now down to the Senate to make any changes or to approve as is before the final approval will be given by Governor Larry Hogan.
The expansion into U.S. online sports betting will allow the state to diversify its already successful gambling operations. It will enable the Old Line State to use the extra revenue created by the addition of Maryland online gambling and sports betting to add funds to the local education support systems.
The House of Delegates Committee Gives a Green Light
House of Delegates committee has given the go-ahead for the proposal to expand the state’s gambling industry. This proposal includes fantasy games and online sports betting.
The House Ways and Means Committee has approved the bill, sponsored by House Speaker Adrienne a Jones. It automatically grants licenses for in-person sports betting at the current Maryland six casinos. This also includes three major professional sports stadiums plus the riverboat off-track betting facility on the Potomac River
There will also be another 10 licenses for in-person betting. Which would be open to applicants and another 15 licenses for online betting via websites and apps. Although companies can apply for both in-person and betting licenses receiving one of the licenses does not guarantee acceptance of the other type. It could mean that Maryland as a state could have up to 22 in-person sports gambling venues and 15 options for online and mobile betting.
This number is an increase of five licenses from the original version of the bill. Still, Lawmakers heard from many within the industry who believed there should be more licenses for both in-person and online. Many are pressing lawmakers to tie mobile and in-person betting licenses. Currently, the bill does not propose to join license types.
Some companies had pressed lawmakers to tie in-person sports betting licenses with mobile licenses, which was not included in the bill.
Maryland House Approves Plans for Legal Sports Betting
With the Committee already approving the plan, it was with no surprise that the Maryland House of Delegates approved it as well. The House’s 130 to 9 votes happened with minimal discussion or debate. Still, some had their concerns. Republican House Delegate Robin Grammer from Baltimore County voted against the bill. Although supporting legalization in principle, he believed the bill was not encouraging free-market competition. “I believe it should be legal. However, this bill is establishing a monopoly,” he commented.
It is now in the Senate’s hands to approve or change the bill. Any differences or changes will have to be worked out before being sent to Republican Governor Larry Hogan for signing it into law.
Maryland Sports Betting Bill Highlights
Maryland sports betting is one step closer to becoming a reality. The current bill automatically grants 12 retail betting licenses. This includes one to each of the state’s six casinos. And also allows Maryland’s three major professional sports venues to be eligible for a license. These include:
- FedExField in Landover: Home of the NFL’s Washington Football Team.
- Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore: Home of the MLB’s Baltimore Orioles
- M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore: Home of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.
Maryland could become the third state to approve a stadium sportsbook, following Washington D.C. and Illinois. It seems to be a popular move as Arizona and New York are also considering it within their sportsbook legislation.
There are an additional 10 proposed retail licenses that are available for other business entities to apply for. This is in addition to the previously mentioned 15 online licenses. The larger gaming entities within Maryland will have the best shot at an online license. It includes bet MGM Resorts, William Hill, FanDuel, and Barstool Sportsbooks. Other operators, including DraftKings, PointsBet, and Fox Bet, will most likely be seeking online sports betting partnerships.
Maryland Looking at Legalizing Sports Betting
Maryland legislators’ attempts to promote the legalization of online gambling are one step closer to having legalized sports betting in the state. State voters approved legalizing sports betting following this fall’s election. It comes as over 66% of the population voted in favor of sportsbooks becoming legal in the state.
The focus has now shifted to Republican Governor Larry Hogan and the General Assembly to set the rules and regulations, including which companies should apply for licenses and how bettors could place bets and how much of a tax the state will take.
It is estimated that Maryland sports betting could bring in $18.2 million per year from a combination of in-person and sports mobile betting. It assumes the same 20% tax rate would apply to Maryland online gambling as it does with the current casino revenue.
A disparity study is needed to determine whether women and racial minorities are disadvantaged while participating in employment and opportunities within the Maryland gambling industry. If it finds that this is the case, then the lawmakers will need to include provisions to ensure that these groups have a fair way to participate and capitalize on opportunities. However, with these issues still to be answered, it’s not known when Maryland sports betting will go live.
Mobile sports betting apps and the horse racing industry have poured millions into the effort of persuading voters to support Maryland sports betting. At the same time, both Democratic and Republican politicians have supported the legislation. They believe sports betting within the state could raise money for public education and other much-needed community projects. Especially now, with the Coronavirus pandemic’s economic effect, many believe it will burden the state in the foreseeable future. There is no plan to indicate how much money would be raised or how much the school systems would get.
Although the measure linked to education funding has been popular with voters, State Comptroller Peter Franchot argues gambling isn’t the right way to sort state fiscal problems and other opponents including, communities worried that gambling may increase crime in their area.
The bill will mean that online sports betting will be legal for anyone over 21 years old visiting the state to register. It will give access to anyone with a computer and or mobile device. BestAppBet has a list of reviewed and well-trusted online casinos for players to compare and check out. Some even offer a generous welcome bonus for joining.
With the Maryland governor having the most substantial budget authority within the state, lawmakers can only cut money from the proposal. They cannot rearrange money within the budget.
Democratic lawmakers this year have pushed for more power when it comes to setting the budget. Question One on the ballot would allow future lawmakers to cut from the governor’s budget and reassign that money to different areas. However, the governor would be able to exercise a line-item veto on those changes. Lawmakers will only be able to override such vetoes if they called a special session of the legislature.
This change would go into effect for the 2020 four budget year. Hogan would have completed his second, four-year term in office. He will not be able to run again due to term limits. Hogan and many Republicans oppose Question One, stating the current system works and allows them to keep lawmakers in check. However, Democrats have pushed Question One as a good measure and would allow for a better power balance.
Maryland borders Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C. The state’s population is estimated at over 6 million, with about 600,000 living in Baltimore, the state’s largest city.
Maryland’s gambling community currently has six land-based casinos. Governor Martin O’Malley looked to expand Maryland’s selection of gambling in 2012. Senator Douglas JJ Peters introduced the legislation. It proposed legalizing an additional casino in Prince George’s County and adding a certain amount of slot machines and table games to the other two casinos that were open and three that were about to open at the time in Maryland.
The legislation set s aside tax at a rate of 2.5% for a set economic development fund and an additional 2.5% of the revenue for funding a new hospital in the state.
However, this proposal was unsuccessful during the 2012 legislative session, with Governor O’Malley then advocating a special session in July to back gambling expansion.
In November 2012, the much-needed casino referendum was passed and allowed table games at the existing authorized casinos and allowed a 6th casino to be built in Prince Georges County. This license was awarded to MGM Resorts International and allowed a casino resort to open in December 2016 at National Harbor.
Maryland joins other states as they move towards legalizing sports betting. Many states have already legalized legal sports betting. However, others are still working out the rules and regulations to ensure a thriving market. With issues still to be worked out, it’s still unknown how long it will be until online and retail sports betting will be legal within the Old Line State. But they are moving in the right direction.
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