- Maryland Will Implement Regulated Sports Betting
- Up to 30 Retail Sportsbooks Locations Coming to Maryland
- Sixty Online Sports Wagering Operator Licenses Available
After the state House and Senate passed competing bills, regulated Maryland sports betting will be implemented via a compromise. On the 2021 legislative session’s final day, lawmakers agreed on a wagering bill to send to the Governor. It is expected Governor Larry Hogan will sign the bill into law.
What Is the Compromise for Maryland Sports Betting?
After Marylanders overwhelmingly approved a referendum to regulate sports betting, the legislature needed to create implementation rules. With Democratic control of both chambers, the only question was who would create a better betting plan.
A limited model for Maryland sports betting passed the state House of Delegates. Conversely, the state Senate approved a sweeping plan featuring unlimited licenses. The Senate only approved its bill with a few days to spare. The two chambers needed to quickly reach a deal.
Despite its support from a vast majority of lawmakers, the House bill created questions of fairness. The fewer licenses approved, the more minorities and women are left out of the new industry.
As a compromise, Maryland sports betting licenses will not be unlimited. However, there will be up to 30 retail sportsbooks allowed throughout the state. An additional 60 online operator licenses will create intense mobile competition.
Additional Details of Maryland Gambling Expansion
The 30 physical sportsbook locations will include the state’s professional sports venues, casinos, and horse tracks. Maryland sports betting also has a lower-tier of licenses for smaller retail books. These licenses carry a lower initial fee, smaller renewal costs, and smaller tax rates. Instead of paying 15% of their revenue, like mobile and large books, these locations are taxed at 13%.
Some of these smaller operating licenses are likely reserved for minority or woman-owned restaurants and bars. Additionally, allowing licenses at sports stadiums will help Maryland compete to keep the Washington Football Team in-state. Both neighboring Virginia and Washington, D.C. are keen to have the next WFT NFL stadium built within their borders.
Another wrinkle of the compromise bill has nothing to do with Maryland sports betting. The legislation removes a law that prevents Ocean Downs Casino from building a hotel on its property. Near touristy beach communities, Ocean Downs plans to expand into a major resort destination. This bill clears the way for the casino to grow.
Now the compromise Maryland sports betting bill heads to Gov. Hogan’s desk. It seems he considers the additional new gambling revenue part of a more comprehensive COVID pandemic relief package. Therefore, it is anticipated he will sign the bill without reservations. Backers hope to have the first wagers placed before football season kicks off in the fall of 2021.
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