In one of the final phases toward beginning sports wagering the Maryland House approved measures within House Bill 940 to allow for sports wagering in the state both at select onsite locations and online. Maryland voters first voted to approve sports betting via referendum last November.
Sports betting would be allowed online, at Maryland’s six casinos and the stadiums where the state’s three major professional sports teams play, as well as horse racing tracks, under a measure approved Thursday by the House of Delegates.
The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would allow for 22 locations where people could place bets in person. In addition to casinos, the three stadiums that are home to the Baltimore Ravens, the Washington Football Team, and the Baltimore Orioles baseball team could have sports betting sites.
Horse racing tracks at Pimlico in Baltimore and Laurel Park, as well as the state fairgrounds in Timonium, would be able to have licenses. Another license would be allowed at a “riverboat” off-track betting facility on the Potomac River in Charles County.
The measure would allow 10 more licenses for in-person locations that would be open to applicants. Fifteen licenses would be allowed for online wagering on the internet, where most of the wagering is expected to happen. Businesses could apply for licenses for both online sites and mobile ones online.
Wagers on professional and college sports would be allowed, as well as international sporting events such as the Olympics. Daily Fantasy Wagering (DFW) would also be allowed under components of the bill.
Maryland expects to raise between $15-$19 million annually from sports wagering. Proceeds from sports betting will be directed toward helping to pay for education with the bill targeted to take effect on June 1.
Within the language of the bill, the licensee would retain approximately 85% of sports wagering revenue of the first $5 million generated in revenue and 82.5% of all revenue over $5 million. The balance from sports betting would go to the state.
House Bill 940 contains the important backing of House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County). A workgroup has been meeting regularly to discuss the issue and consider updating amendments with those amendments and the bill itself passing 130-9.
There are some rule differences within the amended version of the bill that separates it from neighboring Washington DC, which also offers sports wagering at their stadiums and arenas.
Unlike DC, the Maryland bill will not allow for sports wagering at all times. For example, betting would only be allowed during the 81-game regular season the Baltimore Orioles play at Camden Yards. The time allowed would be even narrower for the bettors attending eight scheduled regular Baltimore Ravens games at M&T Bank Stadium.
Both stadiums could offer to wager when other events are played but there is a requirement that a minimum number of people be present. The bill states that it must be a minimum of 2,000 for racetracks in Maryland and 10,000 for sports venues on days that are not assigned as “game days”. An example would be a concert.
The bill will be next sent to the Maryland Senate for approval. Maryland lawmakers are in session until April 12. Assuming it will be signed by the Senate, it would then be sent to Gov. Larry Hogan for signature. That optimum scenario would have it taking effect June 1 with no official timeline to begin live operation.
Based on other US state‘s experience with legalized sports wagering, an estimated launch for Maryland could occur sometime early in 2022 with the best possible potential for late in 2021.
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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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