Maryland Online Casino Bill Fails to Pass in 2024

The conclusion of the 2024 session of the Maryland General Assembly came without the passage of a bill to legalize online poker and casino gaming. As a result, the earliest anticipated launch for these sections in the Old Line State is now pushed back to 2026.

Despite the presence of a regulated online sports betting sector and thriving land-based casinos, the push to legalize iGaming in Maryland has encountered considerable resistance. Although, previously, Maryland was seen to be among the states most likely to expand into iGaming this year.

The legalization of iCasinos, according to supporters of the legislation, will significantly increase state funds designated for funding education. During Tuesday’s Senate Budget and Taxation Committee hearing, bill sponsor Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary drew comparisons between the legalization of cannabis and the legislation’s goal of regulating and taxing an industry that is currently hidden.

“I think it is incumbent upon us to regulate, capture that market, and get rid of the illegal market. You can put safeguards on it and protect folks that are worried about problem gaming,” Atterbeary said.

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House Bill 1319 Fails

Sponsored by Democratic State Delegate Atterbeary, HB 1319 aimed to open the doors for up to 30 licensees to operate online casino games in Maryland, had it received approval. These licenses, priced at $1 million for a five-year term, would have been accessible to the state’s existing land-based casino operators, racetracks, video lottery terminal operators, and other qualified entities through a competitive tendering process.

Atterbeary’s proposal incorporated various provisions to promote inclusivity and address social equity concerns. Hence, casinos would have been required to allocate a minimum of 5% of their online revenue to a designated social equity applicant partner.

Also, to gain privileges for two additional iGaming skins, casinos would have been required to share at least one-third of their online gaming revenue with their social equity applicant partner.

Taxation rates were slated to be set at a minimum of 55% for most online casino games, excluding live dealer games, which would have been taxed at a lower rate of 20%.

The bill successfully passed through Maryland’s lower chamber, with 92 votes in favor and 43 against, before advancing to the Senate last month. Upon referral to the Budget and Taxation Committee in the Senate, the bill failed to advance any further.

This did not come as a surprise to some, as Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) has said multiple times that there won’t be any deliberation on gaming expansion measures in his chamber as long as this year is concerned. His motion was also supported by a few opposition parties, including State Sen. Guy Guzzone (D-Howard), who added that 2024 is not the best time to entertain the idea of expanding the state’s gaming industry.

While online sports betting is prevalent across numerous US states, the legality of iGaming is limited to only seven states:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia

Opposition Party Argues Cannibalization

Opposition to the bill also rose from brick-and-mortar casino employees in the state, who fear that the introduction of online US casino gaming could negatively impact existing operators, causing cannibalization.

Concerns over potential job losses among union members were also a factor, as it was a no-brainer that it would reduce in-person casino visits. Although the bill includes a provision allocating $10 million specifically to support existing physical casino workers.

Another resounding roadblock that was highlighted by adversaries are concerns about increasing issues related to gambling addiction. Nonetheless, the Atterbeary bill aimed to allocate a portion of funds to support services for problem gambling.


About the Author
Tebearau Egbe

Tebearau Egbe

Tebearau Egbe is a seasoned gambling writer with more than four years of experience. Armed with a Masters degree in philosophy, Egbe possesses a unique ability to dissect complex industry developments, distilling them into insightful narratives that captivate readers.

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