A bill that would audit handicappers in Maryland was pushed through on “Crossover Day” Monday with the hopes it will make it through the legislative session that concludes April 10.
Co-sponsored by Sens. Craig Zucker and Shelley Hettleman, SB 621 would allow the Maryland Lottery to hire independent companies to audit sports betting handicappers and touts.
SB 621 has now made it through the Senate and been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
SB 621 would hold handicappers accountable
Maryland sports betting launched in December 2021. Nearly a year later, in November 2022, online sports betting became available to Marylanders. Bettors can choose from more than a half dozen online sportsbooks and nearly a dozen in-person sportsbooks in the state.
SB 621 is not intended to eliminate handicappers or touts from the industry. It is simply to hold bad actors accountable and prevent them from misleading Maryland bettors.
Handicappers, touts, affiliates and content creators all share a common goal. It is to attract customers to bet with particular sportsbooks. Many of them represent the biggest companies in the business, such as FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM.
The goal of SB 621 is to ensure these financially-incentivized parties are acting in good faith. For example, if a handicapper claims their picks are correct 80% of the time, an independent auditor would fact-check this claim.
A bill similar to this one failed to pass in West Virginia.
One change made to bill before passage in the Senate
The vote to pass SB 621 out of the Senate was unanimous. Before the vote, there was one small, yet significant, change made to the wording in the bill.
The original proposal said sports betting operators would be required to submit marketing content for review by a third-party auditor. The revised wording said sportsbooks “may” use an independent auditor to verify the validity of marketers.
Maryland-based SharpRank could be potential auditor
While SB 621 makes its way through the Maryland General Assembly, one company mentioned as a potential auditor is SharpRank.
SharpRank works to keep handicappers and sharps honest. The company examines picks offered by sharps and ranks them, as well as determining the accuracy of their picks, SharpRank founder and CEO Chris Adams told PlayMaryland.
“We look at about seven different metrics for our risk profile. It allows media properties, individuals, etc., to say, ‘Don’t take my word for it. This is a third party’s view of who I am as a sports bettor.’”
Another bill on sports betting would protect students
Another bill related to sports betting backed by Hettleman, SB 620, would prevent schools from receiving compensation from sports betting companies for signing students up to their mobile sportsbooks. The University of Maryland has partnered with PointsBet, but that deal does not include incentives for signing up students.
SB 620 would also make the terms of partnerships between universities and sportsbooks available to the public.
Like SB 621, the bill is currently under review by the House Ways and Means Committee. A companion bill, HB 802, passed the House and is under review by the Senate Education, Energy and Environment Committee.