Goucher College Poll Shows Maryland Residents Divided Over Sports Betting

Sportsbook in CasinoAccording to a Goucher College poll released Monday, Maryland residents are almost evenly split down the middle when it comes to the legalization of sports betting in their state.

The Goucher College poll surveyed a total of 713 Maryland residents, by phone, and was conducted Feb. 13-18. The margin of error, of plus or minus, is 3.7 percent.

The results found that 49% of Maryland residents oppose expanding gambling that would allow sports betting to take place at racetracks, casinos or stadiums. On the other hand, 45% of Maryland residents are in favor of allowing it.

When it comes to allowing online sports betting, through the means of either placing wagers online or through an app as opposed to a physical casino sportsbook, those in favor slightly tip the scale with 47% of respondents in favor of it, compared with 43% of respondents who oppose it.

The Goucher College Poll comes during a time where Maryland lawmakers have been in serious consideration of legalizing sports betting. They have been considering uses for the tax revenue, and whether is would be best placed for the state’s K-12 education.

According to Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher, it’s unsure whether respondents know that lawmakers are discussing divvying up the tax revenue for the public school’s use. What’s clear, however, is that same level of division among respondents has been seen in previous polls.

“They are divided now,” Kromer said. “But my guess is that because public education is important to people, you’d see different numbers if they made that connection.”

State Pushes Forward, Will Need Public’s Approval

While state lawmakers are working toward passing through legislation that would permit sports betting in the state, according to the law, voters get the final stamp of approval. For legislation to pass, voters will need to approve it in a ballot referendum in November for it to get the green light to actually go through.

The General Assembly is also debating whether or not they should ask voters to remove themselves from the decision process completely, that’s if Maryland expands gambling in the future. Even still, voters get the final say in whether or not they want to be apart of that decision process.

Legalized Gambling in Maryland

Currently, on-site gambling is allowed in Maryland’s six casinos: Rocky Gap Casino Report in Flinstone, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Hollywood Casino Perryville, Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover, Ocean Downs in Berlin, and MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill.

According to state analysts, Maryland’s total casinos are expected to generate nearly $1.8 billion in gross gambling revenue in the 2021 fiscal year. That revenue would allot $542 million to be used on the state’s Education Trust Fund.

While the support for education in the state is high, Marylanders get immediately turned off if they feel they’re being taxed too high, and it bleeds into their decision-making process for legalized sports betting.

“There is a high level of support for education. And then you see where the rub is. Marylanders feel like they are taxed too much,” Kromer said. “When asked about more services and more taxes, you see the plurality saying keep everything the same.”