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Maryland Sports Betting Bill Becomes Law Through Inaction

Voters Will Have Final Say On Statewide Referendum This November

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Less than two months after a sports betting bill was passed by the Maryland legislature, it became law following inaction by Gov. Larry Hogan.

According to reports, Hogan vetoed several bills last Thursday but allowed a couple of bills to pass into law by neither signing or vetoing the legislation.

SB 4 was passed through both the chambers of the legislature in a landslide. It unanimously passed in the Senate and made it through the House with a 129-3 vote in favor of.

The bill, however, doesn’t necessarily legalize sports betting in Maryland. It simply allows the issue to be voted on this November. If the voters support sports betting on a statewide referendum this November, Marylanders could be betting on sports in 2021.

Colorado passed sports betting through a similar process last November and launched its sports betting operation at the start of the month. If passed by the voting public, lawmakers would finalize details such as tax rates and the number of available licenses, which could give the state a similar timeline as Colorado.

The question on the ballot in Colorado was slightly misleading, as it listed the issue as a tax hike for water reclamation projects before mentioning sports betting, ultimately resulting in a very close vote narrow passage of the issue.

In Maryland, the question will read “Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and event betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”

With a more direct and concise question on the ballot, there’s less of a chance that voters vote ‘no,’ especially in the era of COVID-19 where governments are strapped for cash to fund programs. It’s not a slam dunk, however, as Goucher College polls found the electorate to be fairly close to a 50-50 split on sports betting.

Billionaire owner of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, Dan Snyder, began lobbying Maryland lawmakers for a gambling license at the start of 2020, in hopes that he could have sports betting at his George’s County stadium.