Maryland House of Delegates to Consider New Sports Betting Bill

  • The House received the bill Tuesday, introduced by Speaker Adrienne Jones
  • House Bill 940 permits retail and online betting, with a total of ten mobile licenses available
  • Mobile licenses require a $500,000 fee, while casinos must pay $250,000 for retail wagering
  • Maryland voters approved sports betting in November, despite attempts to avoid a referendum
Maryland flag
Maryland lawmakers will consider sports betting legislation for the first time since state voters gave a legal market the greenlight in November 2020. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Kickstarting Maryland sports betting

Maryland has moved one step closer to a legal sports betting market. State lawmakers in the House of Delegates will consider a new bill which sets out sports wagering legislation.

House Bill 940 includes both retail and online sports betting

The House received the bill on Tuesday. Introduced by House Speaker Del. Adrienne Jones, House Bill 940 includes both retail and online sports betting. A Sports Wagering Application Review Committee could distribute a total of ten mobile sports wagering licenses, in addition to an unspecified number of land-based permits.

If passed, the bill will still require the signature of Governor Larry Hogan before it becomes law. The Senate could still draft its own sports betting legislation before that point.

What does the bill say?

House Bill 940 sets the fee for mobile sports wagering licenses at $500,000. Meanwhile, the legislation splits retail properties into two classifications. Class A facilities include casinos and horse racing properties, while Class B encompasses other facilities outside of this bracket. Under the new legislation, the former will pay a $250,000 sports wagering license fee, while the latter will pay $50,000.

taxes from sports betting revenue will go towards the state’s education fund

In addition, the bill includes a tax rate of 15% for an online operator’s first $5m in revenue, increasing to 17.5% past this point. For retail operators, the bill sets a tax rate fixed at 15%. The bill also includes a new 15% tax for daily fantasy sports operators and a $50,000 registration fee. This requires renewal each year at the same cost. According to the legislation, taxes from sports betting revenue will go towards the state’s education fund. 

The bill permits both in-person and online registration for mobile betting sites. It also paves the way for sports wagering at professional sports venues on game days, such as M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards, in addition to horse racing facilities such as Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.

Maryland’s journey so far

Lawmakers in Maryland have been attempting to create a legal sports betting market since the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018. In January 2019, Senate President Thomas Miller urged lawmakers to “find a way to do it without a referendum,” as this would have required a delay until November 2020.

State lawmakers admitted defeat later that same year. After exhausting any other possible routes, state representatives decided the legalization of sports betting required a constitutional amendment. This necessitated the public vote, which went ahead in November last year. Miller expressed his disappointment at the delay: “Everybody’s got a head start: Las Vegas, New Jersey… it’s very unfortunate.”

In March 2020, Maryland’s government approved a bill for the legalization of sports betting. Lawmakers voted 45-0 to pass Senate Bill 4, which left out any details regarding the regulation of such a market. Eight months later, Maryland voters officially gave sports betting the green light. Now lawmakers just need to agree on a set of rules, such as those established in House Bill 940.

As of yet, state lawmakers have not provided revenue projections for the potential of a legal sports betting industry in Maryland. In just December, operators in neighboring states Pennsylvania and West Virginia saw sports betting handle of $548.6m and $53.2m, respectively. Online betting contributed the vast majority of handle in both cases.