Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Says Sports Betting is Education Touchdown for State

Posted on: October 20, 2020, 10:01h. 

Last updated on: October 20, 2020, 10:19h.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has officially issued his support for legalizing sports betting in the state.

Maryland sports betting referendum Hogan
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is coming out in support of legal sports betting, as state voters decide on Question 2. (Image: Office of Larry Hogan)

Marylanders are already voting via absentee and mail-in ballots. Along with deciding who should be the President of the United States for the next four years, Maryland voters are being asked if they want to allow legal sports betting in the Old Line State.

Question 2, the Sports Betting Expansion Measure, asks, “Do you approve of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and events betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?” The governor says he’ll be answering, “Yes.”

Question 2 provides a critical revenue source for public education without raising taxes on families and businesses,” Hogan said in a statement. “This initiative builds on the very successful ‘Hogan Lockbox,’ which puts casino revenues in a lockbox dedicated to education.”

“We are already funding our K-12 schools at record levels, and this is another way to ensure that is the case for years to come,” the governor continued.

Major Newspaper Opposes

The Maryland General Assembly passed Senate Bill 4 to force the sports betting referendum. The legislation was not signed by Hogan. But the governor did not veto it, effectively allowing it to be certified without his signature.

If a simple majority of voters back Question 2, the state will have a slew of conditions to figure out. Question 2 does not specify where sports betting could take place, but it’s likely that the state’s six commercial land-based casinos and three horse racetracks would be included. The question does not dictate licensing costs for sportsbooks, a tax rate on revenue, nor whether mobile betting would be allowed.

The lack of details prompted The Baltimore Sun, Maryland’s most-circulated newspaper, to come out in opposition late last month.

“Approving Question 2 simply authorizes the state to pass a law that would then work out the details on who would be eligible for a sports and events betting license, what form the gambling would take, and how it would be conducted and where,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote. “And while it’s not unusual to pass a referendum first and fill in the particulars later, there’s no good reason to do that here.”

“There should be more transparency in this process upfront before charging ahead. Work out the details, then Marylanders can make an informed decision. Until then, we urge a vote against Question 2,” the Sun concluded.

Governor Predicts Success

There’s been limited polling on Question 2. But a February survey conducted by Goucher College found that only 47 percent of likely voters say they support expanding sports gambling. Forty-three percent said they opposed the issue.

Much has changed since that poll, most importantly heavy marketing from DraftKings and FanDuel. The two sportsbooks and daily fantasy operators have spent more than $2.75 million to flood television and radio commercial breaks.

Hogan is confident the message is out that sports betting will help state education.

“I think this year we should be able to get that [sports betting legalization] done,” Hogan added to NBC Sports Washington. “States are really lacking revenue. It’s another potential source.”