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First Of Many Maryland Sports Betting Bills Introduced

After Voters Legalized Sports Betting Last November, Lawmakers Begin Creating A Framework For The Market


The first of likely several sports betting bills in Maryland was filed early in the 2021 legislative session.

While the electorate voted to legalize the act last November, the ballot initiative was worded in a way that left many details about the market and the way the state would regulate it up in the air. Voters were faced with a yes or no question about whether to legalize the activity. The legislation that gave voters the say didn’t have any sort of framework in place for the market.

Lawmakers will use the legislative process this year to fill those holes and create a regulatory environment for operators to work within.

The first of likely many bills to be submitted this year deals with the licensing process for non-profit sportsbooks, according to a report from The Action Network. There will only be a handful of these types of operators, like the Maryland fairgrounds, which is already one of the most profitable off-track betting locations for the existing horse racing market in the Ocean State, according to comments made by Sen. Chris West, who sponsored the legislation.

If the bill is approved, it will allow the fairground to use sports betting revenue for charitable purposes.

Tax rates and licensees have yet to sorted out and must be approved by lawmakers before betting can begin at any location, but the landscape indicates that online betting will be allowed as well. Mobile and online wagering is already allowed in the horse racing industry, and most land-based casinos already have secured partnerships with online sportsbooks.

MGM National Harbor has a natural partnership with Bet MGM, Hollywood Casino Perryville teamed up with Barstool Sportsbook, Ocean Downs will work with Twinspires and Live! Casino & Hotel snagged a FanDuel collaboration.

Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore is owned by Caesars, which acquired William Hill to run its sportsbooks operations last year, so the partnership between William Hill and Rocky Gap Casino Resort will likely be disbanded. That would leave an opening for DraftKings to enter the Maryland market if the two entities began talks.