Maryland Sports Betting Could Be Operational by Summer 2021

Posted on: November 5, 2020, 09:28h. 

Last updated on: November 5, 2020, 09:36h.

Maryland legalized sports betting on Election Day through a statewide ballot referendum, and sportsbooks could be up and running by the summer of 2021.

Maryland sports betting election referendum
Sports betting in Maryland is likely to be available to people inside the state sometime next summer. (Image: University of Maryland)

More than 66 percent of voters backed Question 2 — the Sports Betting Expansion Measure — that allows the state legislature to determine regulations that will govern the expanded gambling.

However, because COVID-19 shortened the General Assembly’s session in March, state lawmakers rushed through the sports betting bill without critical components on how sports betting would operate and be regulated.

With the referendum approved, the state government will now begin the process of determining those regulations. And with the coronavirus continuing to hamper gaming revenues at the state’s six commercial casinos, politicians say they’ll move quickly to begin grabbing new revenues.

Summer Target

Maryland is late to the sports betting game. Its neighbors benefited from not having to ask their constituents whether they support amending their respective constitutions to expand gambling.

Sportsbooks are live in Delaware, DC, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Virginia has made sports betting legal, and is currently in the licensing process.

It’s very important in this age of COVID, where the economy is still suffering, that any additional revenue we can get from sports betting will be helpful to closing the budget gap around education,” said Sen. Craig Zucker (D-Montgomery) to the Associated Press.

A few particulars lawmakers must work out:

  • Where will sports betting be permitted? Casinos? Horse racetracks?
  • What is the licensing fee?
  • What is the duration of licenses?
  • What tax on sports betting revenue will be imposed?
  • Can sportsbooks offer college sports?
  • Will odds on Maryland college sports be included?
  • Will mobile betting be allowed?
  • If mobile is allowed, do operators need to partner with a casino?

Zucker says the odds are strong that sports bets wagered through the internet will be authorized. Other states that have sports betting reported that mobile betting is a necessity to reap the full tax benefits.

“I can’t imagine a scenario where the state wouldn’t allow it online,” Zucker explained. “What else is included and how those bets are made, that’s to be determined.”

Financial Benefit

A nonpartisan analysis conducted by Maryland’s Department of Legislative Services concluded that the state will bring in at least $18.2 million annually from in-person and mobile sports betting. That number is assuming the state imposes a 20 percent gaming tax on sports betting, the same rate levied on casino table games.

The majority of revenue from sports betting will go toward public education, as is the case with casino gambling.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) backed the sports betting referendum because it helps cover education. That’s even more critical now, as the state is taking in less money from land-based gambling.

Since the state’s first casino opened in 2010, more than $3.4 billion has been contributed to the Maryland Education Trust Fund.