Maryland Now on Fast Track to Legal Sports Betting
- HB 940 signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan
- Passed as an emergency bill
- Legislation intended to “open up opportunities for minorities, women”
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Bill Makes MD One of the Largest Markets in the US
Maryland’s sweeping sports betting framework offers nearly 100 licenses to eligible applicants. These licenses include an impressive 60 online sports betting licenses, the most available in any state so far. There’s a number of reasons why Maryland will be offering this sizeable number of licenses, one of which was pointed out by MD House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D):
I am particularly proud that we will sign legislation that opens up opportunities in the industry of sports betting to minorities and women.
This is a historic bill, and perhaps one of the first of its kind to be specifically tailored to opening the sports betting market to minority and female ownership. The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland met in early 2020 in order to make the market more open to minority and female operators– this was before more than two-thirds of voters indicated their desire for legal, regulated sports betting in November 2020.
As a result of the Legislative Black Caucus’ arguments, Maryland’s Lottery and Transportation departments conducted a disparity study, resulting in several amendments to the then-front runner sports betting bill: HB 940. It was found that offering licenses only to existing gambling and sports venues would be an impediment to more diverse ownership in the sports betting market.
Now, not only will Maryland offer the most sports betting licenses in the country, but they’ll also be required to meet certain hiring goals, while a portion of the application fees will go to creating a grant for minority- and women-owned sports wagering platforms.
HB 940 Goes from Floor to Governor’s Desk in Record Time
By April of 2021, the MD General Assembly came to an agreement on the language of the bill, and in May of 2021, Governor Larry Hogan signed HB 940 into law. In a surprising move, lawmakers earmarked this bill as an emergency bill, giving it the momentum to “jump the legislative line” and make it to the governor’s desk in short order.
This was likely to start recouping lost revenues from 2020 as soon as possible by offering sports betting in time for the 2021 NFL season. It looks like Maryland is on track for this goal, as all that’s left to do is for operators to start applying. On an interesting but relevant side note, Gov. Hogan simultaneously signed legislation to repeal the state song. An old relic of the state’s racist roots, it seems that Hogan is attempting to sign as many socially conscious bills as possible.
What Can We Expect When Betting Goes Live in MD?
The governor has until June 1st to make final actions on the current spate of bills, after which point they’ll start to take effect. Then, operators will be able to apply for licenses and go through the rigorous approval process, with the expectation that they’ll be live by the NFL season’s start in September. Among the first operators expected in the Free State are DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel, as they’ve got the resources to enter the market and have already publicly announced that they’re looking at Maryland as a potential launch. Stay tuned!
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Chris Altman is a traveling writer and content specialist covering everything from betting to plane crashes. He has been working in sports betting, specifically legislation for some time now, covering industry developments and the legal landscape of sportsbooks in the U.S. Chris is also a published short story writer and zine editor. Email: [email protected]