Maryland Senate Committee Gives the Green Light to Sports Betting Legalization Proposal

The Senate of Maryland is advancing a thorough plan aimed at officially permitting sports betting, both in-person in various retail locations and online, across the state.

On March 7th, the Budget and Taxation Committee unanimously decided to proceed with the gambling expansion plan to the Senate, with further discussion set to begin on Thursday.

Under the provisions of the proposed piece of legislation that is being considered by local lawmakers, an unlimited number of sports betting licenses are set to be allowed, with different types of operating licenses set to be created for in-person and online sports betting services. The Senate plan would allow the Ravens’, Orioles’ and the Washington Football Team’s stadiums and the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore to offer sports betting on a daily basis.

This, however, is a significantly different plan from the one passed by the House of Delegates. It would put a limit on the number of licenses, including the ones set to be sought in the future for online and mobile sports betting, and would also limit the football and baseball sites and Pimlico to offering sports betting services only on game days, race days and at the time of large special events.

Two Legislature Plans on Sports Betting Await Maryland Lawmakers’ Decision

The Chair of the Budget Committee, Senator Guy Guzzone, has explained that by essentially permitting sports betting operating licenses to be issued to any company that meets the minimum conditions, the new form of gambling could become available soon, even in time for the National Football League’s (NFL) season this fall.

The proposed bill is set to be greenlighted as an emergency measure so that the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission and a new commission that is set to be created anytime soon would take into consideration and review businesses’ applications for sports betting licenses. Another reason why the state’s Legislature is in a hurry is that there are a few days left before the scheduled end of the current legislative session, so Maryland lawmakers are facing some pressure to eventually choose one of the two plans or reach a compromise.

Since the US Supreme Court decided to make sports betting legal in the country in 2018, enabling all states to individually decide whether to legalize the new form of gambling or not, the neighboring states of Maryland have made some progress with the issue. Local voters have already overwhelmingly approved the addition of the new form of gambling to Maryland’s legal gambling sector during the general election in 2020, but state legislators still need to set out the details. Making a decision on sports betting legalization is important for local lawmakers also because they do not want to see the state left behind its neighboring states.

Both of the proposed legislative pieces of legislation would tax the process generated by sports betting companies in the state, with most of the money set to be contributed for education, as funding for public schools. The Senate version of the bill aims at sending $3 million to universities that have been historically attended by Black students as funding for workforce training programs. The Senate’s sports betting legalization plan also aims to impose larger application and license fees for Maryland casinos, stadiums and bigger companies willing to offer sports betting than for the smaller operators.