Maryland State is one of the only states in the US that lack tribal gaming. Since the 1900s, the state exercised a full prohibition on sports gambling. Strict and severe penalties were imposed on both the players and the operators whenever they violated the legislative provisions. However, after casino gambling was legalized back in 2008, sports betting was not left out. For the first time in over 100 years, there were serious legislative talks about legalizing sports betting services in the state.
For betting on horse races, however, the activity dated back to 1870 when pari-mutuel betting pools were created under the law, with oversight from the state racing commission. The state later permitted off-track betting in 1988. At this time, simulcasting of the horse races was only authorized in cases where a track did not have operational live racing services.
With sports-betting officially banned by the PASPA in 1992 across the country, the only hope for sports enthusiasts was in fantasy sports. In February 2016, a bill was filed by Senator Peters to regulate daily fantasy sports which could then be decided by voters in a referendum. SB0976 was to be licensed and regulated by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission with only citizens above 21 years allowed to participate. If passed, the matter would be decided on a referendum and the bill submitted to the Senate Committee after its first reading.
HB0930 was then introduced by Delegate Luedtke which defines the DFS contests and its regulation on the games. The bill did not specify the regulatory framework but gave the commission the power to implement the expected legislations. It was then passed to House Ways and Means Committee after the first reading.
As at April 2016, The Maryland State Fairgrounds were then allowed to continue its operation on the off-track betting facility by a bill approved by the Baltimore County Council. However, with the passing of HB 0727, 2 of the bills opposing the expansion of the gambling at a site were to be dropped from the legislature. Senator Peters’ bill (SB0976) was then dropped from the legislature after the full house did not pass it. As a result, the matter was not to be included in the November’s referendum.
But that was not the end for fantasy sports. Come July 2016, several proposals intended to regulate the operation of the DFS games were then suggested by the State Comptroller Peter Franchot. These proposals included a minimum legal age of DFS participation of 18, ban on operators offering college/amateur sports and a monthly deposit cap of $1,000.
The proposals by Peter Franchot to regulate the operation of DFS sports were officially enacted on the 2nd of January 2017. All the operators were to have a valid license with an obligation of tax compliance. During the Annapolis Summit, the President of the Senate Thomas V. Mike Miller then made it clear that the legislature did not intend to lower or raise the taxes in the 2017 session.
In anticipation for the imminent repeal of the PASPA House Delegates, Jason Buckel and Kevin Hornberger introduced legislation HB0989 in February 2017. The bill was a proposal to allow sports betting in the state should the PASPA be repealed, and state voters would further approve the bill. HB0989 would then establish a task force to determine the regulation and implementation of sports betting in the state under the Lottery and Gaming Control Commission. A 20% tax on wins was also proposed.
In February 2018 another bill, HB1346 was introduced by House Delegate Jason Buckel to authorize sports betting on collegiate and professional events at land-based gambling facilities upon repealing of the PASPA. A license fee of $300,000 with an annual renewal fee of $50,000 was agreed upon.
Frank Turner then introduced HB1014 for the issue of sports betting licenses to licensed horse race tracks and licensed video lottery operators. HB1014 was passed in March after it was voted in by a majority in the house and was to be considered by the Senate. Unfortunately, on reaching the Senate in April, HB1014 was dropped from the legislature following a majority vote against its passage.
On 8 February 2019, HB1132 was introduced to govern sports betting within the state. Licenses were to be issued to VLT operators as well as horse racing licensees under the supervision of the agency. However, the bill did not gain enough traction to proceed further.
Hopes for the legalization of sports betting in Maryland were rekindled once again when Senator Chris West took the liberty of prefilling SB58 in December 2019. This bill is aimed at allowing land-based casinos and horse tracks to offer sports betting services. However, the same senator cautioned against interactive online and mobile betting insisting that online gaming was not ripe for discussion yet. The bill also suggests a 20% tax revenue as is the case for table games in the state. Should the bill pass the legislature in 2020, residents will be given a chance to vote for it in a referendum come November 2020 officially.