Maryland Could Offer Sports Betting After Referendum, Change To Federal Law
Legal Sports Report

Maryland Becomes Latest State To Eye Legal Sports Betting With New Bill

Maryland sports betting
Maryland joined the growing list of states that have their eyes on legalizing sports betting.

The new legislation that surfaced Thursday would not attempt to create a challenge to federal law, as in the New Jersey sports betting case. Instead, it would legalize sports betting should the applicable federal law — PASPA — be repealed, altered or deemed to allow for single-game wagering.

The Maryland sports betting bill, at a glance

The new bill — H 989 — would have the state study sports betting and make recommendations for a regulatory scheme. Here’s some of what the bill would do:

  • It would establish a task force that would “study the implementation of sports gaming in the state.”
  • The bill, if passed by the legislature and enacted by the governor, would also have to be approved by a voter referendum.
  • It would give the state State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission oversight over sports betting in the state.
  • Casinos and racetracks could apply for sports betting licenses.
  • It would only take effect “contingent upon the repeal or amendment of the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in a manner that does not prohibit the State from allowing wagering on sporting events or a determination by a federal court or the United States Department of Justice that the Act does not prohibit the State from allowing wagering on sporting events.”

The last point would allow Maryland to offer sports betting should New Jersey win its ongoing case to authorize sports betting. That case is being appealed to the US Supreme Court.

Interestingly, Maryland was the first state to explicitly legalize paid-entry fantasy sports. However the state’s attorney general said it’s not clear if this law needed to go through a referendum as well.

Other states also interested in sports betting

Maryland is just the latest state to take a look at legal sports betting. The efforts include:

The market for Maryland sports betting

Maryland’s six casinos and three racetracks would be very interested in the possibility of offering sports betting at their facilities. That includes the newest casino that opened this year, MGM National Harbor, near Washington DC.

More on the subject from the Baltimore Sun:

The owners of the state’s three largest casinos — Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Maryland Live and MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County — say states should have the authority to sanction sports bets.

“Over $100 billion annually is wagered illegally on sports in the U.S.,” Caesars Entertainment, owner of Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, said in a statement. The casino accepts bets on horse racing overseen by the state, but is barred from taking wagers on football, basketball or other sports.

There are a lot of steps that need to take place before Maryland actually has legal sports betting. But it’s the latest evidence of momentum and interest at the state level.

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.