Gov. Larry Hogan today signed Maryland sports betting legislation that will allow more than 100 sportsbooks to go live in the state by this year’s NFL kickoff.
The bill signing in Annapolis marked five weeks since the Maryland General Assembly passed House Bill 940 authorizing state regulators to oversee retail and online sports betting at stadiums, large casinos, racetracks, OTBs, bars, and amusement centers.
HB 940 sponsor and House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones of Baltimore today praised the legislation as inclusive to all Marylanders.
“This year we specifically looked at legislation through the lens of inclusion. That’s why I’m particularly proud that we will sign legislation that opens up opportunities in the industry of sports betting for minorities and women,” said Jones. “This was a valid issue that overwhelmingly passed in this last election cycle.”
HB 940 received final passage April 12 on a 112-16 vote in the House of Delegates after clearing the Maryland Senate unanimously the same day. Sports betting made it to the General Assembly for consideration after Maryland voters amended the state constitution to allow sports betting in Nov. 2020.
History of Maryland’s Sports Betting Law
The sports betting legislation signed by Hogan looks a lot different from the bill considered by state lawmakers in early April that would have allowed unlimited sports betting licenses — a sweetener added to the bill to appease dozens of OTBs wanting to capitalize on legalization.
Expanded licenses for OTBs were worked into the legislation in the 2021 legislative session’s final hours when lawmakers approved about 30 Class B retail licenses for smaller OTBs, bars and restaurants, and amusement halls.
Those licenses are divided into two groups: B-2 licenses will go to applicants who have fewer than 25 full time workers or less than $3 million in annual gross receipts. B-1 licenses will be given to applicants who aren’t eligible for B-2 licenses.
The most expensive licenses under the new law — available for a fee of $2 million each — are Class A-1 licenses reserved for the state’s professional sports teams including the Baltimore Ravens, Washington Football Team, and The Baltimore Orioles. Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course will also get a license, as will the state’s large casinos. Class A-2 licenses will go to smaller tracks and smaller casinos.
Both Class A and B licensees will be able to also apply for mobile licenses. There will be up to 60 of those available.
HB 940 has an emergency clause that allows it to take effect immediately upon becoming law. Regulations will be approved, and then the application process can start.
The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission, or SWARC, created by HB 940 will award the licenses. The Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission is expected to issue the licenses before the start of the 2021 football season.