A new Maryland bill would leave legal internet gambling, or iGaming, up to the decision of voters on the November 2024 ballot.
State senators say online casino gaming could create another supplemental source of income for Maryland education initiatives.
Maryland looks to legalize online casinos, poker
Maryland casino gambling has been legal in the state since back in 2007. Online casinos and online poker, on the other hand, still remain illegal in the state.
This new iGaming bill, SB 267, would change that.
The bill, introduced by Senators Ron Watson and Nancy King on Jan. 25, would give Maryland’s State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission authority to issue iGaming operations licenses to video lottery operators within the state.
Maryland added online sports betting on Nov. 23 of last year — about one year after retail sports betting launched at Maryland casinos. That joined Maryland as part of the majority of US states to have some form of sports betting.
Only a few US states allow online casinos though, including nearby Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Those states have cashed in on lucrative tax revenue from internet gaming.
SB 267 iGaming bill specifics
All approved applicants must pay a $500,000 licensing fee in order to secure a five-year license in the state. After that, operators would pay a license renewal fee equal to 1% of their average revenue for the year.
Licensees will also be required to retain no less than 85% of the total wagers collected. In other words, iGaming operators must have an annual 15% hold.
The state’s allotment of funds would then be distributed on a monthly basis — the net of which would be transferred into Maryland’s Education Trust Fund after operating expenses.
Maryland shows forethought about problem gambling
The bill also highlights the fact that each licensee must have appropriate safeguards in place for problem gambling, such as:
- Incorporating the 1-800-GAMBLER helpline into account sign-in and sign-off text
- Offer players the ability to set deposit limits
- Allow the temporary suspension of accounts
The Commission, meanwhile, would be responsible for providing the Maryland governor and general assembly with an annual report summarizing the new industry’s success.
First, the report would reflect on iGaming’s impact on Maryland problem gamblers and gambling addiction. Additionally, the report would confirm the industry’s integrity by speaking to the efficacy of the state’s current statutory and regulatory controls.
SB 267 leaves legal internet gaming decision up to voters
The bill looks to leave the decision up to Maryland voters.
A referendum on the upcoming November 2024 general election ballot would pose the question:
“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?”
If most Maryland voters are against the legalization of online casino gaming, this bill will become null and void. If the majority instead support the referendum, iGaming would then become legal 30 days following the official tally of votes.