This week, Maryland lawmaker Jon Cardin tabled a piece of legislation that seeks to allow casino owners to make donations to political campaigns, in an effort to create what he described as an equal playing field.
The piece of legislation, called House Bill 54, would provide casino owners with the opportunity to make financial contributions to state legislators and their political parties. The sponsor of the bill explained that, if turned into law, the draft would guarantee the equal treatment of similar entities in the local gambling market.
For the time being, casinos are the only gambling entities that are suspended from making political campaign contributions in the state as a result of a law that was passed by the local Legislature in 2012 in a move aimed at putting an end to the gambling industry’s influence over the Maryland General Assembly.
This is also not the first time the member of the Democratic Party has tried to address the issue. In 2022, he introduced a piece of legislation that would have suspended the owners of sports betting operators, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, from making political campaign contributions before the practice was officially legalized. The proposed bill, however, never got to a second hearing. As a result, for the time being, no law explicitly bans sportsbook owners from making donations to Maryland Legislature members’ political campaigns.
Allowing Sports Betting Companies to Make Contributors to Maryland Lawmakers Is Unfair, Bill’s Author Claims
During a hearing at the Ways and Means Committee that took place on January 24th, Joe Cardin said that he remains committed to creating some consistency in the state’s gambling industry, even if it means that a bill allowing more contributions to be done should be introduced.
According to Mr. Cardin, Maryland lawmakers’ number one priority on a piece of legislation that is being passed is to try and establish integrity, consistency and transparency throughout the government processes.
Gambling firms’ donations to political campaigns have been a matter of controversy not only in Maryland but also in other US states. As mentioned above, a law preventing casino owners and operators from making financial contributions to state political candidates was passed by Maryland lawmakers in 2012. The idea of the piece of legislation was to limit the influence that an already powerful industry could have on policymakers and regulators that were supposed to be overseeing the constantly expanding gambling sector there.
Everything seemed to be going well until the local Legislature decided not only to bring sports betting to the state of Maryland but also to allow sportsbook license holders to make political contributions. Now, the practice is legal but, according to some, such as Jon Cardin, totally unfair who has claimed that allowing only part of the gambling industry to influence lawmakers through monetary donations for their political campaigns is just not right.