Maryland Sports Betting Bill Nears Senate Passage After Key Changes

Posted on March 5, 2020

A more inclusive bill to legalize sports betting in Maryland is on the verge of passing in the Senate.

Sen. Craig Zucker made changes to S 4 in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee late Tuesday. The substitute adds three racetracks and a stadium for the Washington Redskins to the six casinos the bill permits to offer Maryland sports betting.

The new language was approved and the sports betting bill was sent unanimously to the Senate floor, where it will be up for debate Thursday morning. Zucker is confident the bill will pass by Tuesday of next week.

“We had work groups and it was the sentiment that we should be more inclusive,” Zucker told Legal Sports Report. “We care deeply about the racetracks and it’s important to try to drive people to the racetracks.

“This is an opportunity to do that that I think would create more marketing opportunities for them and more betting opportunities for the people of Maryland.”

New details in Maryland sports betting bill

Zucker’s original bill gave MD sports betting exclusively to casinos. It featured some of the highest fees and tax rates in the country, with a $2.5 million initial licensing fee and a 20% tax rate.

The tax rate remains the same while the licensing fee is now tiered:

  • For casinos with 1,000 or more video lottery terminals, the fee remains at $2.5 million.
  • For casinos with less than 1,000 video lottery terminals, the fee is now $1.5 million.

Washington NFL team in focus

FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins in Landover, MD, or an NFL stadium built in the area can have a license for $2.5 million if certain conditions outlined below are met.

Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park, owned by Stronach Group’s Maryland Jockey Club, would share a license for $2.5 million. Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, MD, would pay $1.5 million for a license.

License renewals change from one year at $250,000 to every five years for 25% of the original license cost. Licensees may contract with one online sports wagering operator.

“We talked to the casinos, we talked to the racetracks, and we think this is a fair way to go,” Zucker said. “They can succeed with these rates.”

Four off-track betting facilities in the state may offer Maryland sports betting through partnerships with a casino or racetrack licensee.

Stipulations for Washington to have betting

It’s no surprise to see Washington involved after owner Daniel Snyder lobbied heavily for the team’s facility to have sports betting. Snyder also owns FedEx Field.

However, for the Redskins stadium to get sports betting, the owner would need to meet these requirements:

  • Enter into an agreement with Prince George’s County for the construction of mixed-use development and the construction or reconstruction of a sports facility in the county.
  • Submit architectural drawings of the sports facility to the county by July 1, 2022.
  • Receive zoning approvals for construction or renovation of the stadium totaling at least $500 million by July 1, 2024.
  • Enter into a community benefits agreement with Prince George’s County.

“We want to make sure the Redskins continue to invest in Prince George’s County,” Zucker said. “This is a good way to make sure that partnership continues and also requires a community benefits agreement.”

Long way to go for MD sports betting

Even if S 4 passes the Senate in the coming days, it needs to pass the House. Then the governor must sign it and goes in front of voters in November.

Legalizing sports betting in Maryland requires going to the ballot for approval of a constitutional amendment.

Legislative analysis projects the bill would provide $21 million in revenue annually for the state, which would go into an education fund.

“Polling is mixed but I’ve heard from constituents who really want it,” Zucker said of regulated sports betting. “It’s not for me to decide, it’s for them. If they want it, they can vote for it. If not, they can reject it. But it’s going to be up to the voters of Maryland.”

Matthew Kredell Avatar
Written by
Matthew Kredell

Matthew started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News, where he covered the NFL, Kobe-Shaq three-peat, Pete Carroll’s USC football teams, USC basketball, pro tennis, Kings hockey and fulfilled his childhood dream of sitting in the Dodgers’ dugout. His reporting on efforts to legalize sports betting began in 2010, when Playboy Magazine flew him to Prague to hang out with Calvin Ayre and show how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting expansion of regulated sports betting across the country. A USC journalism alum, Matt also has written on a variety of topics for Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

View all posts by Matthew Kredell
Privacy Policy