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Last week the voters approved the referendum to allow sports wagering in Maryland at selected licensed facilities within the state. It was an overwhelming decision gathering 66.2% support.
The approval was the initial step of several in the state toward offering sports betting to Maryland residents. That is because state lawmakers did not establish sufficient time to complete a comprehensive sports betting bill at the Maryland General Assembly session in March 2020 and due to the influence of Covid-19.
Among the key questions to be included for legislators: How many licenses will be awarded? Who will obtain them? How taxation rates will be established? What specific sports and events can people within Maryland wager upon? How and where will revenues be distributed?
As the voters approved the second statewide ballot question allowing for sports wagering, there is no current mechanism in place to do it. The MD General Assembly will have to decide upon details during their next scheduled session. Sen. Craig Zucker, D- Montgomery County, will lead the effort.
Sen. Zucker commented:
We are going to have everyone at the virtual table to make sure everybody’s voice is heard, and we can stay competitive with our neighbors. We want to make sure our minority businesses are included as well. Again, this is going to be completely transparent, open, and inclusive.
As is an important issue in all states introducing sports wagering, location(s) are to be decided upon and if sports betting would be allowed at casinos or horse racetracks. Also, Maryland lawmakers have not established if mobile sports betting would be allowed in the state. Lastly, if wagering on Maryland-based collegiate teams will be allowed.
“It’s very important in this age of COVID, where the economy is still suffering, that any additional revenue we can get from sports betting will be helpful to helping to close the budget gap around education,” said Zucker.
Many groups and individuals have expressed interest in obtaining sports wagering licenses, including Dan Snyder, owner of the locally based NFL Washington Football team.
Horseshoe Casino is also seeking a license, They reported to a local news agency “We look forward to working with state legislators on a program that will ensure Maryland casinos remain competitive in neighboring states in order to maximize revenues for Maryland schools.”
Gordon Medenica, director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said:
If the bill is very streamlined, straightforward, sports betting for the casinos, and let’s say horse tracks as well, they can get up and running very quickly. In fact, most of those entities have contractual relationships with several major sports betting providers.
Sports betting is expected to generate $20 million to $40 million a year directly into the state’s education fund.
State lawmakers believe as proven within other states, 80% of sports wagering will be done online and it should be available in Maryland by Summer 2021, in time for the next NFL and NCAA college football season.
Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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