Maryland iGaming Bill Would Ask State Voters If They Want Online Casinos

Posted on: January 26, 2023, 05:41h. 

Last updated on: January 26, 2023, 05:48h.

Maryland online sportsbooks debuted their operations in November. Just two months later, at least two state senators say it’s time to further expand gaming in the Old Line State.

Maryland iGaming online sports betting gambling
Right on the heels of online sports betting’s debut in Maryland, two senators want to bring the state legal iGaming. But for online gambling to become legal, a two-thirds majority support in each chamber of the General Assembly and a voter-approved ballot referendum are needed. (Image: Capital News Service)

State Sens. Ron Watson (D-Prince George) and Nancy King (D-Montgomery) this week introduced Senate Bill 267. Known as the “Internet Gaming — Authorization and Implementation Act,” the bill seeks to authorize the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to allow the state’s current casino operators to take their slot and table games to the internet.

Only Maryland’s six casinos would qualify to pursue iGaming licenses — MGM National Harbor, Live! Casino & Hotel, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Rocky Gap Casino Resort, Ocean Downs Casino, and Hollywood Casino Perryville.

Long Road Ahead

SB267 won’t be implemented anytime soon, as the legislation requires the will of the people. That’s because the statute seeks to legalize an activity that currently falls outside the scope of the Maryland Constitution.

“In accordance with Article XIX of the Maryland Constitution, before this Act, which authorizes additional forms or expansion of commercial gaming, becomes effective, a question substantially similar to the following shall be submitted to a referendum of the qualified state voters of the State at the general election to be held in November 2024,” the statute reads.

The proposed referendum question text reads:

Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize internet gaming for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”

However, Before voters in Maryland might be faced with the question, the iGaming measure must gain two-thirds majority support in each legislative chamber. The Maryland Constitution requires that legislatively referred statutes obtain such supermajority support in the General Assembly.

Small Price to Pay

Watson and King’s bill proposes entry fees for the casinos to launch iGaming, assuming the statute finds adequate favor in Annapolis and the general public through a referendum.

SB267 sets the license fee for online casino privileges at $500,000 every five years. Gross gaming revenue from iGaming would be subject to a 15% tax, with the new revenue allocated to the state’s Education Trust Fund (ETF).

Maryland uses its gaming taxes to help fund public education. The ETF supports early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, and capital improvement projects.

By comparison, Maryland’s northern neighbor also has iGaming. But casino interests there had to pony up a larger licensing fee. Pennsylvania charged each of its casinos that sought iGaming privileges a fee of $1 million to take their operations online. The licenses are renewable every five years for $100,000.

Pennsylvania also levies a substantially higher tax on iGaming GGR. Online slots share 54% of their net revenue with the state, while interactive tables and poker rake are hit with a 16% tax.

Maryland’s population of 6.2 million is considerably smaller than Pennsylvania at 13 million. But Marylanders earn more money than any other state, with a median household income of about $100,000 last year.