Maryland lawmakers drafted and then filed a sports wagering bill (SB 58) for the state legislature to look into when they convene for the session this year. The bill would legalize sports betting at Maryland casinos and pari-mutuel racetracks.
However, there is currently not any language in the proposed bill in terms of mobile or online wagering, and that is a big issue.
Maryland Senator Chris West is the sponsor of SB 58, and he is under the belief that legislature will pass it, as he recently stated that he “doesn’t know anyone that’s against legalizing sports betting.”
The bill is a rather short one, being only two pages. However, the bill does have information on how sports betting would operate in Maryland if it were legalized.
The bill states that 11 sports betting licenses would be issued, with six going to the state’s land-based casinos and five going to racetracks.
Monetary figures are not in the language of the bill, either. Still, West has come out and said that sports betting would generate yearly tax revenue of between $40 million and $60 million for the state.
The bill reads that the tax revenue garnered from legal sports betting in Maryland would be for “dedicated purposes including the funding of public education.”
Online, Mobile Gambling Is Needed
For Maryland to bring in tax revenue from the figures West projected, the state would need to legalize online and mobile wagering. However, that is a little tricky considering that would take a totally different bill than what SB 58 proposes.
In the summer of 2019, the Maryland Department of Legislative Services also came out with an estimate on how much tax revenue the state could bring in if sports betting was legalized. To say the estimate was more conservative is an understatement, with a figure of $7.1 million annually.
If online and mobile betting was legal, that figure would be quadrupled, according to the global forecasting company of Oxford Economics. Global Market Advisors is a consulting firm specializing in the gaming industry, and it went further, saying the tax revenue for the state could be 10x higher.
The above estimates are realistic, considering around 80 percent of sports betting revenue comes from online sports betting in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Maryland would miss out on a significant amount of revenue if online and mobile gaming was not legal.
Many bettors in Baltimore go to nearby Pennsylvania to make legal online and mobile wagers. This is just like New York, which does not have legal online betting, and residents, mostly from New York City, flock to New Jersey to make those types of bets.
The Public is Needed
For sports betting to be legal in Maryland, its residents would have to be in favor of it. Even if a law legalizing sports betting were to pass in the Senate as well as the House, a state constitutional amendment would be needed.
If this were to happen, then a ballot referendum, which would likely be during the November 2020 election, would have to be passed by the majority of voters in the Old Line State.
If Maryland residents voted in favor of legalizing sports betting, then the state’s lawmakers still have issues to iron out. They would need to make a decision on online and mobile wagering, the fees for licensing, tax rates, and if people could wager on college sports.