Maryland Senate Approves Sports Betting Bill After House Changes

  • Stripped-down sports betting bill has been sent to Gov. Larry Hogan
  • His approval would allow voters to decide if sports betting should be legalized
  • Details on who could participate and how the activity would take place were left out
Maryland on map
Lawmakers in Maryland have approved SB 4 after the House stripped it of its contents earlier this week. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Bill sent to Gov. Larry Hogan

Maryland sports betting legislation is moving swiftly through the state’s legislature, having been approved by the Senate last week and the House earlier this week.

Today, the Maryland Senate reviewed SB 4 after the House removed the main details. Lawmakers concurred 45-0 to legalize sports betting in Maryland. The bill will now be sent to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature.

Lawmakers concurred 45-0 to legalize sports betting in Maryland

If signed into law, a referendum will take in November for voters to have the final say on legalizing sports betting. The ballot will ask voters if they approve of a commercial gaming expansion to authorize sports betting to raise funds primarily for education. If voters approve the idea, lawmakers can then get to work adding in the fine details.

Senate approval

The bill was reviewed on the full Senate floor this morning with little discussion on the legislation before the vote took place. A couple of questions were asked before the measure was approved with 45 affirmative votes.

On Tuesday, lawmakers in the House heard the bill, with details removed regarding who could participate. Lawmakers also removed details on how sports betting would take place. The coronavirus outbreak has caused the current session to end early.

This leaves little time left for a major discussion on the subject. Lawmakers have essentially decided to move the idea ahead to see if voters want to see sports betting legalized, without including the major details.

What did the House remove?

The House removed the guts of the bill after the Senate first approved the measure. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Craig Zucker, saw his measure pass with a unanimous vote of 47-0 before it advanced to the House.

The bill originally allowed all four casinos in the state to offer sports betting, as well as the state’s three racetracks. There was also an insertion to potentially allow the stadium of the Washington Redskins to offer services.

renew their license for 25% of the initial cost every five years

A tiered fee structure created by the Senate set fees for operators, starting at $1.5m and increasing to $2.5m. Operators could renew their license for 25% of the initial cost every five years. The industry tax percentage came in at 20%, with 19% of that going to education and 1% to a minority business enterprise program.

With today’s Senate’s approval, the legislation moves on to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk for his consideration.