Maryland online casino bill headed to Senate after passing House

Maryland online casino bill headed to Senate after passing House
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Maryland’s chances of legalizing online casino in 2024 are still alive after the House passed an amended bill on March 16 and advanced it to the Senate.

House Bill 1319 was approved by a vote of 92-43, narrowly clearing the three-fifths majority required to advance legislation while coming just ahead of the state’s March 18 crossover deadline. 

Despite the progress, the bill is likely to face an even tougher test in the Senate following a series of amendments initiated by its sponsor, Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary. 

Included in the changes was a ban on the use of credit cards to fund accounts, a stipulation that is notably not part of Maryland’s existing online sports betting regulations.

The number of potential licenses was also expanded, from 12 up to as many as 30, with licenses costing $1m for five years and subject to a renewal fee equal to 1% of a licensee’s annual average profit over the previous three years prior to renewal.

Licenses would be divided into three classes, with Maryland’s six retail casinos as well as all racetrack and video lottery terminal (VLT) operators eligible for Class A and B licenses, respectively. There would then be up to 18 untethered licenses available through a competitive bidding process.

An additional amendment added specific diversity and inclusion stipulations for licensees. 

Online slots and table games would be subject to a 55% tax rate, with live dealer games taxed at a minimum of 20%.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where it will likely meet opposition on account of some of the adopted amendments as well as it being up against the end of Maryland’s legislative session on April 8.

If it clears those hurdles, voters would have the opportunity to formally legalize online gaming at the ballot box in November.