Maryland Sports Betting Bill Passes Months After Voters Back Wagering

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Maryland sports betting

Maryland sports betting legislation is heading to Gov. Larry Hogan.

The legislative approval follows voter backing at the ballot box in November. It could lead to legal sports betting in Maryland by fall 2021.

The Senate worked on HB 940 since the Maryland sports betting bill passed the House of Delegates on March 11. Following some significant amendments to the original bill regarding the number of licenses, the Senate unanimously passed the bill, 47-0, Monday afternoon.

The same evening, the House concurred with Senate amendments and passed the bill, 122-16.

Process for MD sports betting bill

Since delegates passed their original bill, 130-9, bill sponsor and House Speaker Adrienne Jones worked with Senators on their amendments. The two chambers came to an agreement over the weekend prior to the Senate vote.

While Maryland residents voted to legalize sports betting in November 2020, the legislature wasn’t required to enable it this year. The Senate made HB 940 an “Emergency Bill,” which would put the bill into effect as soon as enacted.

The stated goal in the House was to launch by 2021 NFL kickoff.

Sports betting license opportunities key

Senators implemented an uncapped number of licenses to keep as free a market as possible and to promote growth in minority- and female-owned businesses. The final compromise ended up in-between the Senate and House proposals.

Class A licenses are reserved Maryland’s six casinos, three professional sports teams/stadiums and the Maryland Jockey Club, which includes Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.

After the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee originally voted for unlimited Class B and mobile licenses, later amendments limited mobile to 60 and Class B to 30, in addition to seven named entities. Those are the Maryland State Fairgrounds, four off-track betting parlors and two commercial bingo halls with 200 or more machines.

The rest of the Class B licenses are for other businesses with physical locations in Maryland. The 30 available licenses will be up for a competitive bid.

Mobile included as well

Class A and B license holders can also apply for mobile licenses. Mobile licensees are authorized to conduct online sports wagering.

The state will revisit the demand for licenses in December 2025.

There is separate language for “online sports wagering operator” licenses, awarded by the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission. Those may partner with multiple license holders, but license holders can partner with just one “online sports wagering operator.”

Desire to get off the ground quickly

Senators also wanted to increase licenses to launch sports betting in MD quicker. That is why they also enabled the emergency bill provision.

Maryland sports betting should be off the ground in time for the 2021 football season.

The Senate also pushed for early access for:

Pro sports teams get full-year sportsbooks

Maryland teams will keep pace with Virginia sportsbooks and DC sports betting, allowing its teams’ stadiums to have full-year sportsbooks.

The bill would give Class A-1 licenses to MLB‘s Baltimore Orioles and the NFL‘s Baltimore Ravens and Washington Football Team. It also leaves language for if Maryland ever adds additional pro sports teams.

The House bill allowed for bets only on game days with more than 10,000 and only in ticketed areas.

Maryland sports betting tax structure

Maryland will tax sports betting revenue at 15%. The fiscal note projects an annual impact of between $17 million and $19 million annually for the 2022-2026 fiscal years.

The bill also requires an appropriation of $3 million to historically Black colleges and universities in Maryland. Both Morgan State Univerisity and Bowie State University are to set up a Center for the Study of Data Analytics and Sports Gaming.

At least $10 million from the sports betting tax revenue will go toward K-12 education.

Class A licenses will contribute portions of their license fees to the “Small, Minority-Owned, and Women-Owned Business Sports Wagering Assistant Fund.” The fund is to help minority and women-owned businesses succeed in the industry. Those funds can help pay license fees or business development opportunities.