Maryland sports betting could become operational as early as this fall. That’s after state lawmakers finally came to terms on how to regulate the expanded gambling.
With just hours before the General Assembly was set to adjourn, the Maryland Senate made sweeping changes to House Bill 940 and passed the overhauled sports betting statute unanimously, 47-0. Once received back, the House quickly signed off on the amendments, and moved the legislation by a vote of 122-16 to Gov. Larry Hogan’s (D) desk.
HB940 is a colossal sports betting package, one unlike any other in the nation that has reached a governor’s desk. With Hogan’s signature, casinos, pro sports stadiums, and horse racetracks qualify for retail sportsbooks. Another 30 sportsbooks licenses will be set aside for businesses that want to offer in-person betting, and up to 60 mobile sports betting permits will be available.
The total number of sports betting privileges is more than double that of any other state that has passed legislation to regulate sports gambling.
Residents Get What They Want
Last November, Marylanders backed a ballot referendum asking if they wish to amend the state constitution to allow sports betting. The measure easily passed with 67 percent support.
Following the vote, various interests demanded a seat at the sports betting table. Casinos, horsemen, landlords for the pro sports stadiums, and small businesses told lawmakers they want in.
Maryland’s forthcoming sports betting industry is expected to be a large one. Maryland has the highest median household income of any state in the country, highest internet usage, large sports fanbases, and existing commercial land-based casinos.
HB940 makes sports betting wildly competitive, as there will be plenty of opportunities for market entry. But the bill’s relatively low tax rate on gross gaming revenue stemming from sports betting — 15 percent on both retail and online — keeps the market attractive.
[Lawmakers] seem to have worked a pretty good agreement to make most stakeholders somewhat acceptable to the bill,” Hogan said yesterday. “I can’t really say exactly without reading it, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to act on that one pretty quickly.”
Mobile permits will cost $500,000, payable to the state. Casinos, horse racetracks, and stadiums will pay $250,000 for their Class A sports betting permits, and the Class B rights for other businesses run $50,000.
Annual renewals cost $100,000 for mobile, $50,000 for Class A, and $10,000 for Class B.
Hogan has long championed using casino tax revenue to support public K-12 education. HB940 carries on that tradition. State fiscal analysis for the sports betting bill projects between $15 million and $19 million annually will be generated for the Education Trust Fund.
BetMGM, William Hill, Barstool Sportsbook, and TwinSpires Sports all have easy access into Maryland. The four online sportsbook operators are fully or partially owned by the parent companies of MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Horseshoe Baltimore, Hollywood Casino Perryville, and Ocean Downs in Berlin.
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