Maryland gambling update: Latest Legislation Update
Following an unsuccessful attempt in 2023, Maryland Sen. Ron Watson is renewing efforts to legalize online poker and casino gaming in the state.
Watson has been a big proponent of online gambling, and last week he filed a bill with hopes of giving bettors a new form of gambling. Here’s more on the latest Maryland gambling update.
What’s at Play?
SB 603 would allow the state’s six land-based casinos to each partner with two online gambling operators. Theoretically, this could lead Maryland having up to 12 online gambling operators. The state currently has seven sports gambling sites from which to choose, including DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars, PointsBet, BetRivers, and ESPN Bet.
Applications would require a $1 million licensing fee for a four-year term and state taxes. The proposal comes with a 47% tax rate on online gaming revenue, including 1% for problem gambling and 1% to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency for regulatory activities. It’s a substantial hike from his original proposal of 15%.
Asked about the increased tax rate, Watson told PlayUSA.com the “casinos can afford it. The margins are huge because there is no overhead. I believe there’s a lot more that can be done through iGaming to support the state’s financial deficit.”
While the increase in this Maryland gambling update may be steep, it’s in line with other states. For example, Pennsylvania, home to the country’s largest online casino market, has a 54% tax rate on online states.
Age restrictions for such gaming would be in line with states such as Connecticut and New Jersey, which require that players be 21 or older and within state lines. It would also allow players to compete against players in other states.
Still Work to Be Done
The bill, which will start in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on Feb. 28, still has some hurdles to clear. If it passes through both the Senate and House and receives Maryland Gov. Wes Moore’s blessing, it would still need voter approval in November.
While mobile sports betting has spread rapidly throughout the U.S. — it’s been legalized in 29 states and the District of Columbia, with North Carolina next in line on March 11 — there are still only six markets with live, legal online casinos.
Critics of Ron Watson‘s proposal fear that expansion could negatively affect the bottom line of in-person casinos in the state. A report produced by the Innovation Group for the Lottery and Gaming Control Agency estimated that in-person casino revenue could decline by as much as 10%. There are also concerns about potential job losses as a result of a decline in in-person betting.
Online Sports Gambling Booming
Online sports gambling first went live in Maryland in November 2022. Bettors are allowed to wager on professional, college and a variety of Olympic-style sports. Between then and the end of 2023, bettors were estimated to have spent roughly $4 billion on mobile sports wagers, according to the Maryland Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability.
Stayed tuned for more Maryland gambling updates.
For gambling news on the best online casinos, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine