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Voters Say "Yes" To Sports Betting In Maryland And South Dakota

In Both States, Regulatory Guidelines And Tax Rates Will Be Finalized In The 2021 Legislative Session


Voters in Maryland and South Dakota passed sports betting ballot initiatives Tuesday.

Both states passed the measures by a sizable majority. In South Dakota, the “Yes” votes made up about 58 percent of the electorate, while Marylanders voted to allow sports betting by a 2-to-1 margin.

In South Dakota, the election results meant that the state’s constitution was amended to allow sports betting at the brick-and-mortar casinos in Deadwood. During the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers will draft a bill, which will set tax rates and establish regulatory guidelines for the new industry.

According to a report from The Action Network, the bill will likely pass in the first half of 2021 and casinos can launch sportsbooks later that year. The constitutional amendment only allows for sports betting in Deadwood, so it’s very unlikely that online betting will launch in the state any time soon.

Maryland’s ballot initiative was similar to South Dakota’s, in the sense that it lacked a regulatory framework, but Maryland did not need to alter the state constitution.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic shorted the 2020 legislative session, Maryland lawmakers passed a sports betting bill that simply allowed the voters to have the final say. It unanimously passed the senate and by a 129-3 margin in the house but had no real specifics as to how the market would be run.

Like South Dakota, those issues will be sorted out in the 2021 legislative session. Assuming the state taxes sports betting revenue at the same 20 percent rate it does table games at casinos, the state would reap $18.2 million in tax revenue, according to a Baltimore Sun report.

Those tax dollars will be used to help fund the state’s public education system, which is why Republican Gov. Larry Hogan came out in support of legalizing sports betting just a couple of weeks before Election Day.