DraftKings, FanDuel Spending Big Bucks to Sway Maryland Voters to Back Sports Betting

Posted on: September 16, 2020, 08:52h. 

Last updated on: September 17, 2020, 08:36h.

Rivals DraftKings and FanDuel are uniting to convince Maryland voters to back a ballot referendum to legalize sports betting on Nov. 3.

Maryland sports betting DraftKings FanDuel
DraftKings and FanDuel are trying to get voters in Maryland to bring sports betting to the state during this November’s election. (Image: Vote Yes on 2)

In November, Marylanders will decide whether sports betting should be legal in the Old Line State. Question 2 on the ballot will ask voters to vote whether or not to authorize sports and events wagering and direct revenue to the public education system.

If passed, the state’s six commercial casinos, as well as Maryland’s three horse racetracks, would be permitted to incorporate sportsbooks into their facilities. Mobile betting operations would also be allowed.

Licensing fees and tax rates would be determined at a later time.

Sportsbooks Launch Campaigns

DraftKings and FanDuel will lead the campaign to influence voters to support Question 2.

The Washington Post dug through public campaign finance records and found that DraftKings has set aside $250,000 for television advertisements. FanDuel says it donated $500,000 to the ballot referendum initiative and will spend up to $1.5 million on the ad blitz.

Sports fans in Maryland are ready — and waiting — to bet on sports legally,” DraftKings said in a statement.

“Legalizing sports betting will allow for a customer-centric experience and shut down illegal sites that offer no consumer protections. It will also keep money in Maryland that’s currently going to legal markets in neighboring states,” the statement continued.

Maryland borders three states, plus DC, where legal sports betting is already operational: Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia. And regulated sportsbooks are on the way to Virginia.

There are 18 legal sports betting states currently. While New York, the nation’s No. 3 state in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), is one of them, its decision to prohibit mobile betting and only allow wagers to be made at upstate commercial and tribal casinos has greatly limited the market.

Illinois and Pennsylvania are two attractive markets because of their large populations. But high tax rates, respectively 25 percent and 36 percent, damper bottom lines for licensed operators.

Maryland has six million residents, ranking it No. 19 in the US. But Marylanders command hefty salaries. In 2018, the most recent reported year from the US Census Bureau, Maryland ranked No. 1 in median household income, residents pulling in $83,242.

Campaign Debut

The first sports betting commercial launching in Maryland touts the economic benefits sports betting could bring to the state. It cites an urgent need for new tax streams in wake of COVID-19.

“COVID changed everything,” the 30-second spot begins. “More demands on students, parents, and educators. There is a $4 billion education shortfall in Maryland even before COVID. We have a lot to do for our kids.”

“Question 2 will put millions into Maryland schools using revenue from sports betting,” the commercial concludes.

A poll conducted in February by Goucher College found that 49 percent of Maryland residents oppose expanding gambling to allow sports betting. Forty-five percent said they support legalizing sports wagering.