Maryland Sports Betting Bill Goes to Governor

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Maryland will have sports betting this year, with legislation passed today that could launch the state’s first retail and online sportsbooks by NFL kickoff.

Final passage of House Bill 940 came Monday on a 112-16 vote in the House of Delegates after passing the Senate 47-0 earlier in the day. The legislation will reportedly allow for more than 100 sports betting licenses across the state, with at least three-fifths reserved for online sportsbooks.

Maryland’s action to legalize sports betting follows Nov. 2020 voter approval of a constitutional amendment allowing the Maryland General Assembly to authorize sports betting in the Old Line State.

House Bill 940 As Passed

The legislation being sent to Gov. Larry Hogan today looks different than a proposal with unlimited retail and mobile sports betting licenses that passed out of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee just last week.

The final bill – reworked in the last hours of the 2021 legislative session, which ends today – allows for the following:

– 10 retail licenses for Maryland’s large casinos, Pimlico and Laurel Park racetracks, the state’s three professional sports teams, larger OTBs, and electronic bingo halls.

– 30 retail licenses for bars, restaurants, smaller OTBs, and amusement centers

– As many as 60 mobile sports betting licenses by competitive bid

Changes From Earlier Versions

A much more restrictive bill originated in the House of Delegates, which first passed HB 940 on a 130-9 vote on March 11.

That bill provided for limited licenses at large venues, including larger casinos and the state’s big three professional sports stadiums. It also would have provided 15 online and mobile sports betting licenses, and 10 licenses for in-person betting at sports facilities not tethered to racetracks or casinos.

HB 940’s Senate floor sponsor Sen. Craig Zucker explained his chamber’s desire to make the bill more inclusive in his April 8 comments on the bill in the Senate:

“We wanted to make sure that the bill in front of us has meaningful minority and women-owned business participation,” he said. “I believe that this is a road map to get us there.”

What’s Next

Legalization of Maryland sports betting and mobile sports betting requires state regulation for implementation. Zucker said emergency regulations are the next step in the process.

Emergency regulations are expected soon after the legislation becomes law, which puts sports betting on track for a launch in time for some Monday Night Football.

The legislation is expected to bring the state around $17 million a year starting in fiscal year (FY) 2022.

About the Author

Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region who 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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