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Maryland Senator Pushes For Online Gaming, Poker

Move Comes After Failed Effort In 2023

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Maryland could be the next state to legalize online gaming, including poker, if one state senator has his way. Sen. Ron Watson (D) plans to introduce a bill when the Maryland legislative session kicks off on Jan. 10.

The move comes as the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency has already been studying the issue in recent months. Watson sees the addition of iGaming as another opportunity to bring in revenue at a time when the state is facing significant budgetary concerns.

“Many view this as an additional revenue stream, currently projected to make between $30 million to $40 million,” Watson told Maryland Matters. “Here in the state of Maryland, we’re already projecting a $400 million deficit. We need additional revenues, and we have a lot of bills to pay with respect to our educational goals.”

Details On The Plan

Maryland already allows bettors in the state to place sports wagers online after launching in November 2022. Companies like FanDuel, Caesars, and DraftKings currently operate in the state.

Watson pushed for iGaming legislation in 2023, but that bill never got out of the Senate Budget and Taxation committee.

He’s already begun circulating the bill among colleagues and some of the details include authorizing up to 12 operators with a $1 million fee for a four-year license. There would be a 46.5% tax on online gambling, and the state’s six casinos could partner with online operators and form interstate compacts for online poker.

An addition of online poker to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) offers a chance to boost possible shared player pools as the Old Line State has a population of more than $6.1 million.

Adding online gaming has not been met approvingly by some casino workers in the state. Tracy Lingo and Paul Schwab, leaders of the Unite Here union, recently expressed their opposition to Maryland iGaming to the Baltimore Sun.

The group is the largest union of gaming workers in the country and membership includes 100,000 casino workers, who are apparently concerned that online gaming could put jobs in jeopardy.

“In 2008, Maryland voters approved legalizing casino gaming for the promise of good jobs and economic development,” the union noted. “Online gaming will endanger these economic development opportunities at casinos throughout the state, slashing future job creation.”

Several legalized states continue reporting record revenue gains in recent months. The industry celebrated 10 years of operation in the U.S. in 2023.