Summary: Sports betting is currently under discussion in Maryland, with a bill on the table set to assist the state lottery in the process.
Like many states in the US, Maryland is considering the legalization of sports betting. A bill was introduced by Delegates Jason Buckel and Kevin Hornberger, set to authorize the state’s lottery to be in charge of the new gaming industry. However, lawmakers are still trying to determine if voters of the state need to approve the option first.
Maryland Sports Betting
With the bill, the Maryland Lottery would be in charge and facilities that have horse racing licenses as well as those who operate the video lottery terminals, would be eligible to obtain a sports betting license. The bill will see 80% of the revenues go towards the licensees and then 20% would go towards the lottery. The language of the percentages was backwards at first and Delegate Buckel has stated that the change is being made now within the bill to rectify the issue.
The bill is three pages long and would have a licensing fee for sports betting of $300,000. The license would be good for one year and then required an annual renewal fee of $50,000. The fee paid for licensing will see 80% of that amount go towards an education trust fund. The remaining 20% would be split evenly, with half going towards a problem gambling fund and the other half going towards impact grants.
Is a Referendum Needed?
In some states in the US, a referendum is needed in order for legal changes to be made. In 2007, voters of Maryland choose to greenlight a measure that would allow a commercial gambling expansion to be placed on the ballot for consideration. This brings about the question as to if the sports betting bill will need to be approved first via referendum before it can become law.
This requirement however, is not set for the state lottery. Because the sports betting bill involves the state lottery, it may not require the referendum. If so, then the state would be able to move forward without any issue as to waiting on voters to approve the option or not.
If the bill passes into law, bets would not be offered immediately. The bill would take effort on July 1st, but sports wagering providers would have to be contracted first before operations could begin. Rules and regulations would also need to be put in place to govern sports betting for the state. For lawmakers, it seems that a launch would most likely occur by 2020, if the bill moves forward in a timely manner.
If passed into law, Maryland would be one of many states to offer sports betting in the US. Over the past few months, several states have passed legislation or continue to discussion to be able to start the new industry.
Lawmakers will continue discuss this bill and determine if the referendum is needed. If not, hopefully the measure will pass and see the state become the next to begin offering the new wagering option within their borders.