Maryland Sports Betting is On Track For Passage

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Maryland sports betting legalization could be law as early as next week. That’s just five months after the state’s voters authorized their legislature to create a regulatory framework for sports wagering in the Old Line State.

Retail and mobile sportsbooks would be eligible for licenses under the latest Maryland plan, with unlimited licenses available.

Senate passage of the legislation is expected tomorrow. After the Senate votes, the bill will return to the House of Delegates for agreement in Senate changes and final passage. The next stop will be Gov. Larry Hogan, who could sign the legislation as early as Monday.

An Amended Bill

Maryland’s sports betting legislation (HB 940) limited the number of proposed retail and mobile licenses when 2021 legislation first passed out of the House of Delegates by a 130-9 vote in March.  By the time the bill made it out of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee by a unanimous vote on Wednesday, all limits on the number of possible retail and mobile licenses were gone.

Sen. Craig Zucker explained the changes before today’s second reading on the Senate floor.

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

A Detailed Look at the MD Sports Betting Bill

The bill now before the Senate includes a licensing framework for mobile sportsbooks and four classes of retail sportsbook licenses.

Class A licenses are the top tier, while Class B licenses are for smaller businesses that might need financial or other assistance to break into the sports betting market. Five percent of every Class A license fee will go into a fund to support Class B licensee startup and/or organizational costs, said Zucker.

Here are the proposed fees, and proposed tax structure:

Class A

  • A(1): Includes large casinos, Pimlico and Laurel Park racetracks, Oriole Park, M&T Bank Stadium, FedEx Field. $2 million initial fee; $500,000 to renew after five years; 15% tax on wagers.
  • A(2): Smaller casinos. $1 million initial fee; $300,000 to renew after five years; 15% tax on wagers.

Class B

  • B(1): Includes Maryland state fairgrounds, Riverboat on the Potomac, minor league teams. 25 employees plus or $3 million plus gross. $250,000 license fee; $50,000 to renew after five years; 13% tax rate.
  • B(2): 25 employees or less and less than $3 million in gross. $50,000 license fee; $10,000 to renew after five years. 13% tax rate.

Mobile

  • $500,000 initial fee; $100,000 to renew after five years; 15 percent tax rate.

All licenses would be approved by a newly created Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC). That agency would be responsible for ensuring that minority and women-owned businesses can compete in the new sports betting market.

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. Zucker said that puts sports betting on track for a fall 2021 launch.

That’s if the Maryland legislature finishes its work this weekend, of course. The 2021 legislative session ends Monday.

 

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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