One of the last decisions made by the Maryland legislature on the final day of this year’s session was to greenlight the sports betting bill.
The House of Delegates approved the bill 122-16 earlier this week, following overwhelming support it got in the state Senate, 47-0.
Governor Lawrence J. Hogan Jr has already indicated he will sign the measure.
Up and Running by September
Once the bill is signed into law, Maryland will become the latest state to offer legal wagering on sports. So far, 18 other states and Washington DC have made this activity legal.
Under the provisions of the proposal, Maryland’s share of the process will be used for the state’s education account.
If everything goes as planned, fans of sports betting in Maryland will be able to place wagers on sporting events by the end of summer. Anne R. Kaiser, chairwoman of the House Ways & Means Committee, pointed out the ultimate goal is to launch sports betting by early September, just in time for the new NFL season.
Lawmakers have been discussing the implementation of sports betting over the last couple of weeks, looking to resolve several issues. The most important question was whether to limit the number of licensees or to leave it be.
In the end, the two opposing sides made a compromise. Maryland will be able to award up to 60 licenses to operators interested in offering online sports betting. The state will issue up to 47 licenses to land-based applicants. Seventeen of them have already been named in the bill, while the remaining ones will be selected after an application process is completed.
Sports Betting Could Generate up to $18 Million in Revenue
Maryland six casinos will be able to get an on-site license, provided if they want one. The same goes for the state’s professional teams. Guaranteed licenses are also available for the Maryland Jockey Club, the State Fairgrounds, any of the four off-track wagering locations, and the two largest bingo halls in Maryland.
Experts believe this will be a lucrative move for Maryland, especially as it’s surrounded by states that have already made sports betting legal.
Everyone who wishes to offer sports betting to Maryland residents will have to pay an up-front fee. For casinos, that fee will be $2 million for a five-year license, and for others, much less. Sportsbooks will also pay a 15% tax on funds left after winning wagers are paid off.
According to current estimates, Maryland could reap up to $18 million in revenue on a yearly basis.
Last year’s proposal failed to get the necessary support at the end of the session due to minority participation. It’s expected the application review committee will boost applications from businesses owned by minorities and women.
Sen. Craig J. Zucker led a workgroup on sports betting. He is confident everything will be up and running by the time the new NFL season kicks off. Zucker pointed out that funds from wagering on sports would be used to fund education while at the same time giving market opportunities to businesses owned by minorities and women.