Maryland Sports Betting Bill Advances

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A beefed-up Maryland sports betting bill with over two dozen betting licenses added to the proposal moved closer to final passage last Friday.

House Bill 940 as amended in the House Ways and Means Committee includes an additional 12 proposed licenses for casinos, major sports teams, and mobile apps, increasing the number of potential licensees from 25 to 37. Mobile sports apps would vie for 15 licenses, with 12 licenses proposed for casinos, pro sports teams, the state fairgrounds, among others. Ten licenses would be available under the proposal for betting sites not specifically tied to racing or casinos.

All betting sites would enter the sports wagering market for the first time in Maryland under the bill, which would legalize, implement, and regulate sports betting and fantasy sports gaming in the state. 

HB 940 is required to legalize sports betting in the Old Line State after Maryland voters OK’d legalization efforts last November.   

The legislation now moves to the House floor where lead sponsor and Speaker of the House of Delegates Adrienne A. Jones is working to move it to the Senate.

Proposed Mobile Sports Betting Apps Increased

Sports betting proponents urged Maryland lawmakers last month to increase the number of proposed mobile sports betting licenses in the bill for more competition and revenue. Online sportsbooks have been a boon for mobile sports betting in New Jersey and Pennsylvania where 9 out of 10 dollars wagered on sports come through online platforms.

A bigger market with limited restrictions has worked well in states like Illinois where online sports betting has been legalized. Illinois law initially required bettors to register for online betting at a retail sportsbook. 

Payoffs For Businesses And State Education

Supporters of HB 940 are hopeful that the amended proposal will mean more sports licensing opportunities for minorities and more revenue for education. The legislation aims to do both:

  • Sports wagering licensees would be under the purview of the state Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program for a set period to enhance opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses.
  • State proceeds from the bill would be funneled to education and other needs through the state’s Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

A fiscal note attached to HB 940 reports that 85 percent of sports wagering facility proceeds would go to the licensee, with mobile sports betting licensees permitted to keep 85 percent of proceeds from their first $5 million in gaming revenue and 82.5 percent of revenues over $5 million. The rest would go to the state.

State Revenue Specifics

Although HB 940 would take effect this year with betting expected to be up and running next March, state revenues per a fiscal note on the current proposal aren’t expected to roll in until Fiscal Year 2022 which begins on July 1, 2021. State revenue under the proposal would increase by an estimated $13.6 million this fiscal year and $16.5 million in FY 2026, per the fiscal note.

These state revenue numbers include upfront licensing fees as well as application fees ranging from $500,000 for a mobile sports betting license to $50,000 for a Class B license for betting sites not directly tied to gaming.

What’s Next?

Current revenue estimates for HB 940 could change if the bill is amended later this legislative session, concluding in mid-April. Last Friday’s committee approval was critical, however, to further action that could mean legalized sports wagering in Maryland by early next year.

About the Author

Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region and covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, she has been known to watch UK basketball from time to time.

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