Changes Ahead For Maryland Sports Betting Bill In Senate?

Posted on March 17, 2021

Legal sports betting in Maryland likely is coming this year after voters approved a referendum by a nearly 2-to-1 margin in November.

It’s still up in the air what exactly the MD sports betting market will look like, though.

HB 940 is in Senate hands after the bill passed the House last week and will get a hearing March 25 in the Budget and Taxation Committee. The bill received a decent overhaul before passing with an amendment adding 60% more licenses to try to satisfy local businessowners looking to get involved.

Zucker: Maryland sports betting bill a ‘roadmap’

One key senator involved in the process suggests there could be more changes to come.

Sen. Craig Zucker authored a sports betting bill of his own last year and sits on the Budget and Taxation Committee. While he didn’t guarantee any changes were coming, it seems like that’s the expectation.

“I think it’s a roadmap in terms of certainly where the House was,” Zucker told LSR. “The Senate will be looking at it closely trying to work as collaboratively as possible with the House and make sure that we have a good hearing on the bill and take it from there.”

There is a Senate workgroup looking at the details of HB 940 to determine what they like about the bill and what should change, he added.

One big change could be taking another look at how many licenses are available. There are currently 37 licenses proposed:

  • 12 Class A licenses for casinos, horse tracks and stadiums
  • 10 Class B licenses for local businesses
  • 15 for mobile.

“I think the workgroup and then the committee as a whole is going to have to work through what the right amount of licenses will be, both in Class A and B and then the mobile licenses,” Zucker said.

Details in Zucker’s SB 4?

Some of the potential changes could come straight from Zucker’s SB 4 from last year.

“I think last year’s piece of legislation that passed unanimously out of the Senate was a good roadmap to where I think we’re probably going to wind up,” Zucker told LSR in October.

Zucker proposed licenses for the state’s six casinos and three horse tracks with the possibility of adding a license for the Washington Football Team. License fees ranged from $1.5 million to $2.5 million and taxed sports betting revenue at 20%.

HB 940 details

The House bill is a little lighter on those important financial details.

Sports betting revenue would be taxed at 15% to start for both retail and mobile. Once a mobile operator’s annual revenue hits $5 million that tax jumps up to 17.5%. The tax rate for retail does not include an escalator.

The proposal charges $250,000 for a Class A application with an annual $50,000 license fee. Class B operators would pay $50,000 to apply and $10,000 annually to keep the license. Mobile operators would pony up $500,000 to apply and $100,000 a year for the license.

After five years, operators would pay 1% of its average annual sports betting revenue from the previous three years to renew the license.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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