A bill legalizing sports betting in Maryland cleared the House of Delegates on Thursday and is now headed to the Senate floor.
The measure is sponsored by House Speaker Adrienne Jones and was introduced to legislators after state residents voted in favor of bringing regulated athletic gambling to Maryland during the November ballot.
If it makes it out of the Senate and clears all other hurdles, the piece of legislation would pave the way for the launch of regulated wagering at brick-and-mortar locations and online.
The bill would allow 22 physical sites where Maryland bettors would be able to place wagers in person. The state’s all six casinos, including the Ocean Downs casino and harness racing track in Berlin, will be able to operate retail betting facilities.
In addition to these, the horse race tracks at Pimlico in Baltimore and Laurel Park and the fairgrounds in Timonium will too be eligible for wagering licenses from local regulators. A riverboat off-track betting facility on the Potomac River will also be able to apply for such a license, if it feels inclined to do so.
Under the bill, the three stadiums that are home to the state’s three major professional sports teams will too be able to obtain retail betting licenses.
As many as 10 more licenses for betting at physical sites would be granted to interested applicants.
Bill Would Authorize Online Betting, As Well
If the bill becomes law, it would also authorize the provision of online and mobile betting services on the territory of the state. There will be 15 digital gambling licenses up for grabs when the application process opens. State lawmakers believe that most of betting will take place namely online.
If it gains all remaining approvals, the piece of legislation is expected to take effect on June 1. Bettors will be able to place wagers on professional and collegiate sports as well as on international events. The measure also authorizes daily fantasy sports.
Under the bill’s provisions, betting license holders would be allowed to keep 85% of their wagering revenue on the first $5 million generated and contribute the rest to the state, and 82.5% of their revenue if they record more than $5 million in revenue.
State lawmakers expect the legalization of sports betting to raise between $15 million and $19 million in annual revenue for Maryland. The money is planned to be used to improve state education.
All of Maryland’s neighboring states, with those being Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, and Virginia, have legalized athletic gambling in one form or another since the US Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on the practice in the spring of 2018.
Source: “Maryland House Approves Sports Betting Implementation Bill”, CBS Baltimore, March 11, 2021