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House Passes Maryland Online Gaming And Poker Bill

Proposal Now Heads To State Senate

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Poker players in Maryland have more hope to see the state legalize online poker after the house passed an online gaming bill on Saturday. The clock was ticking on a bill with the state’s “crossover day” set for Monday, the final day in which legislation could be passed and sent to the opposite legislative body.

Legislators approved the bill 92-43, which would give voters to power to decide on the issue in November. Rep. Vanessa Atterbeary (D) introduced the bill in February and the proposal now heads to the state senate.

Bill Receives Some Changes

Legislators estimate the industry could produce $300 million in tax revenue for the state, which is facing a $1.1 billion shortfall. The House Ways and Means Committee originally passed the bill in a 15-7 vote on March 13, but also added some amendments to the legislation.

That included a tiered licensing procedure for casinos. The state’s six casinos “must share 5% of online casino revenue with a social equity partner for the first license,” according to Legal Sports Report. “For a second license, casinos need to share 33% of online casino revenue with a partner. Meeting the second threshold also qualifies the casinos for a third license. Online casino taxes would be 55%, or 20% for live dealer games.”

The bill also allows for four off-track betting facilities and two bingo halls to apply for a license. There would be a total of 18 licenses up for grabs.

The bill also bans credit card payments for online gaming despite allowing them to be used to fund sports betting accounts. That inconsistency has drawn some criticism and a senate version doesn’t include this caveat.

Whether the issue crosses the finish line in the senate remains to be seen. With a population of 6.2 million, potentially adding Maryland could give a boost to the country’s shared liquidity online poker compact. New York and Hawaii are also currently considering legalization as well.