Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Maryland?

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As of the passage of the sports betting ballot measure during the November 2020 elections, sports betting is legal in Maryland, but that doesn’t mean you can get started right away.

So why can’t you bet yet? Since sports betting was approved by a ballot measure that means the citizens of Maryland decided for themselves without the state legislature to legalize. That’s all well and good but it means that there are no rules in place for how sports betting will operate since the measure only said that sports betting should be legalized, not how it would look.

Lingering questions remain like, who can operate sportsbooks? Is there a fee for sports betting? How much tax should be applied? All of these questions and many more need to be resolved by the state legislature, and they will be, but at the moment they are in recess and will not return until January 13th, 2020.

With that in mind look out for real actionable legal sports betting in 2021.

On this page, you’ll find everything you need to know about the process of legalizing sports betting in Maryland, including:

  • The history of gambling in Maryland.
  • How the Supreme Court decision to strike down PASPA affects sports betting in Maryland.
  • If it’s legal to bet on daily fantasy sports (DFS).
  • The sports that will attract the most attention when legal betting arrives.
  • Finally, when and how we expect the Maryland sports betting industry to develop in the future.

For more information on other states, browse our comprehensive section on legal US sports betting.

The Current Online Sports Betting Situation in Maryland

As we mentioned before, right now you can’t bet on sports in Maryland right now, but you will be able to soon. That doesn’t mean the state is opposed to traditional gambling, however. Marylanders wanting to engage in sports betting will have to wait even though they voted to legalize. The state legislature, which is set to reconvene on January 13, 2020, will have their work cut out for them. On the list of chores for them to go through before having legal betting is to find the tax rate, how many and how to approve sports betting licenses, and much more. This is on top of the state legislatures already busy schedule so we don’t anticipate sports betting in MD until mid to late 2021.

There are six casinos, which will likely be where the first legal sports bets are offered, as well as pari-mutual betting on horse racing, bingo, raffles, and a state lottery. All the conditions are right for legal sports betting. It’ll just take time.

When PASPA was repealed by the Supreme Court in May 2018, it effectively ended the nationwide ban on sports betting that had been in effect since 1992. Now each state in the US is free to determine their own sports betting laws.

Maryland has been fairly proactive since the repeal of PASPA. There is a real desire to move forward with legalization in the Old Line State. In November 2018, a poll conducted by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland found that 53 percent of registered voters are in favor of legal sports betting, with 37 percent opposed.

A legalization bill was even introduced to the legislative session back in 2018 but wasn’t voted on by the time the 2018 session closed.

Gov. Larry Hogan expressed his support for the bill, and Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch talked positively about using potential revenue from sports betting to improve school funding.

MD Sports Betting

The History of Online Sports Betting in Maryland

Sports betting, both online and offline, was outlawed in Maryland when PASPA was passed by the Supreme Court in 1992. PASPA acted as a ban on sports betting in almost all of the US States, with Nevada being the one major exception.

Speaking of Las Vegas, Maryland even has a connection with the gambling capital of the US. For a number of years in the late 1940s, Nevada and four counties in southern Maryland were the only locations in the US where slot machines were legally able to pay in hard cash.

The interest in the slot machine casinos remained high until they were finally outlawed in 1968.

Today, interest in casinos in Maryland is growing again. The state currently has six land-based casinos which are well spread out across the state. There are a wide variety of slots and table games on offer, as well as live poker tables. Wagering on horse racing is also legal in Maryland.

Even when gambling was completely outlawed in 1968, Maryland only had to wait a couple of years before the establishment of the state lottery in 1973. Since that time, the lottery has generated over $14 billion in revenue for the state.

As you can see, gambling has been a part of Maryland’s culture for decades. The legalization of sports betting is, therefore, a logical next step, particularly in light of the potential billions of dollars available for the state through regulation and taxation.

Previous Attempts at Legalization

There was significant progress made towards sports betting legalization in 2018 in the Old Line State, but as we’ve seen in so many other parts of the US, it is a process that takes time.

Maryland has a bit more red tape to cut than some other states because any change in gambling laws in Maryland requires an amendment to the constitution of the state, which needs to be ratified by voters in a general election.

A bill was introduced in the legislative session in 2018, but in the end, the session closed without the bill being voted on. Throw in the added complication of the election year, and it is very possible that voters will not get the opportunity to vote until the 2020 session.

However, recent polls have suggested that a majority of voters in Maryland will support the bill when they get the chance.

Just like every US state, Maryland has the chance to determine its own sports betting laws in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in 2018, which effectively removed the nationwide ban on sports betting known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

All across the country, states are relaxing their own gambling laws to gain access to what is an extremely lucrative market. We’re happy to report that Maryland is moving in the same direction.

Legalization Arrives

As of November 2020, the citizens of Maryland passed a ballot measure legalizing sports betting. However, since this was done outside of the legislature, that means there were no rules in place and as such it is not a viable activity as of yet.

Which Online Sports Betting Sites Are Legal in Maryland?

Right now, there are no legal online sports betting sites in Maryland. It is possible to bet online using betting sites that are hosted offshore. However, these sites are unregulated and not strictly legal.

They can be considered something of a risk, and Maryland gamblers would be better off waiting for legal options to arrive especially with all signs pointing to that happening in the next year or two.

Since Maryland has expressed interest in allowing online sports betting as well as in-person wagering, we hope to see a variety of options for Maryland online sportsbooks and sports betting sites when legalization happens.

Since MGM already has a casino property in the state, it’s likely that PlayMGM may be among the sites that start doing business in Maryland.

After a bill is passed, check back on this page for reviews of the best Maryland online sports betting sites.

What Sports Can You Bet on Online in Maryland?

Right now, you can not bet on any sports in Maryland. However, that won’t be the case forever since the Nov 2020 ballot measure passed. When sports betting does arrive in Maryland (sometime in 2021), it will find a state with a keen interest in local sports.

Here are some of the sports, leagues, and teams that will attract the most action when legal sports gambling arrives.

Football

Two NFL teams currently play their home games in Maryland.

The Baltimore Ravens have enjoyed quite a lot of success in their short existence. Founded in 1995, the Ravens have made 11 playoff appearances since 2000 and won an impressive two Super Bowls.

Although associated with neighboring Washington DC, the Washington Redskins play out of FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. The recent approval of a sports bill in DC means that while Maryland residents will have to wait to bet on the Ravens, their neighbors in the capital city will soon be able to throw down a few dollars on the Redskins.

Basketball

Maryland is not currently home to an NBA team. In the past, the Baltimore Bullets represented the state in the NBA until they moved to neighboring DC to become the Washington Wizards.

The Wizards played in Maryland until 1997. Baltimore does have a couple of semi-professional and minor league teams, in the form of the Baltimore Shuckers and the Baltimore Hawks.

Baseball

In the MLB, the Baltimore Orioles were one of the eight charter teams of the American League. The O’s have a proud tradition in the MLB, winning three World Series titles between 1966 and 1983, and we expect lots of people in Maryland to bet on MLB baseball.

Although the majority of major sports teams in Maryland are concentrated in Baltimore there are a number of minor league teams scattered further afield in the state, such as the Aberdeen IronBirds, the Bowie Baysox and the Frederick Keys.

Hockey

Maryland is without an NHL team, but in the Maryland Black Bears, they have a representative in the minor leagues.

Plenty of support too can be found for the Washington Capitals, who won their first Stanley Cup in 2018. Like the Washington Redskins, the Capitals played their home games in Maryland until 1997 when they moved to their new shared home in DC.

Other Sports

Although Maryland does not have a representative in MLS, there are many soccer teams that make their home in the state. Lacrosse is popular, with the Chesapeake Bayhawks representing the state in Major League Lacrosse. Some of the most iconic names in the whole of sports are from Maryland, such as Babe Ruth and Michael Phelps.

In the Congressional County Club and Aronimink Golf Club, the state has a couple of world-class golf courses which have hosted major championships. College Sports are a big part of Maryland life too, with programs like Coppin State Eagles and the Towson Tigers among those colleges representing the state in the NCAA.

Is Betting on Fantasy Sports Legal in Maryland?

While Maryland does not have a specific law regarding fantasy sports, the state has moved to clarify its position that fantasy sports are exempt from the state gambling laws. In October 2018, the state also moved to transfer the regulation of fantasy sports to the State Lottery and Gaming Commission.

While there have been some queries about whether fantasy sports should be allowed in Maryland, the industry is currently thriving in the state and shows no signs of slowing down.

Is There No Deposit Sports Betting in Maryland?

It is possible that some offshore sites that can be accessed from Maryland offer no deposit sports betting. However, these sites are unregulated and not exactly legal in the state. They are best to be avoided.

When legal online sports betting arrives in Maryland we expect lots of bonuses and promotions similar to what is offered in other legal markets. This will likely include traditional match bonuses and so-called “no-deposit” bonuses that let you make free bets without risking any of your own money.

What Is the Future of Online Sports Betting in Maryland?

Legalizing sports betting would mean a change to the constitution, which happened in Nov 2020 with the sports betting ballot measure. However, there are no rules in place as of yet and the state legislature will need to reconvene in January 2021 to work out how sports betting will be regulated.

Will Online Sports Betting Ever Be Legal in Maryland?

It is still too early to say for sure, but it certainly looks like Maryland is on the right path for legalization. It’s probably more a question of “when” and not “if” at this point.

The recent decision by Washington, DC to offer legal sports betting, the public opinion polls and the noises being made by lawmakers are all positive signs for the future of sports betting in the Old Line State. Not to mention the massive potential tax revenue.

Maryland Slowly Moving Towards Legalization

Maryland is a prime candidate for legal sports betting. The public has indicated that they support it, there is a history of gambling in the state and a thriving sports culture.

Really the biggest issue for the legalization process is the fact that the bill would have to be approved by the public in a vote. This means that new legislation can not be expedited through the legislature as it was in other states like Delaware or New Jersey.

However, this can be considered a speed bump rather than a stop sign. At the moment, all signs are pointing towards legal sports betting in Maryland by the end of 2020. There is a slim chance it could arrive even sooner.

Make sure to check back on this page for major developments as they happen.

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