Maryland Legislator Files Bill To Legalize Online Casinos

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Maryland Legislator Files Bill To Legalize Online Casinos
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Maryland Sen. Ron Watson filed his highly anticipated online casino bill Friday, beginning the state legislature’s 2024 effort to legalize mobile casinos. Maryland is considered one of the states most likely to legalize online casinos in the near future. 

Maryland law currently allows for brick-and-mortar casinos, retail sports betting, and online sports betting. While online casino games are currently illegal, Watson is hopeful that his bill, SB 603, will change that. Watson introduced similar legislation in 2023, but it never gained traction. 

The state’s legislative session runs through April 8, and the crossover deadline for bills to move into the opposite chamber is March 18. That gives Maryland legislators over a month to work through the details of the online casino bill. 

If the bill passes, voters will also need to approve iCasino legalization in November. 

Bill details

The bill allows for two online operators to partner with each of Maryland’s six casinos, which could help quell some of the concerns about possible cannibalization of brick-and-mortar revenue. Watson’s bill also includes language about live dealer studios, which could lead to job creation in the state. 

It’s likely that several major mobile casino apps would attempt to go live in Maryland if online casinos become legal. Those operators include BetMGM and FanDuel, which each have a retail and mobile sports betting presence in the state. 

Operators would pay a tax of 47% of gross revenue, which could lead to significant tax revenue generation for the state. One percent of the tax would go to the state lottery, while another 1% would go to the state’s Problem Gambling Fund. The rest of the revenue would go to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund, an educational funding initiative. 

The bill is next scheduled to be discussed by the Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee. The committee meets Wednesday, but SB 603 isn’t currently on the agenda.