Anti-Gambling Group Says Online Casinos In Maryland Lack Support

Written By Cole Rush on March 5, 2024
A picture of possible poll outcomes for a story about a poll regarding Maryland online casinos.

A Maryland Retailers Alliance survey suggests that backing for online casinos in the state is relatively low.

The group didn’t include the survey’s methodology or any demographic data. According to the results, 64% of participants opposed online casinos in the state. There were 23% in support and 13% undecided.

However, the Maryland Retailers Alliance is staunchly against online casino expansion.  The advocacy group lobbies for Maryland retailers in all economic sectors. In this case, that’s the brick-and-mortar casino industry.

Cailey Locklair, the group’s president, said iGaming could adversely impact existing retail casinos. Additionally, online casinos would hurt the communities benefitting from the land-based casinos.

“These policies would negatively impact not only the gaming and lottery industries but also every community that benefits from their local economic stimulation. A downturn of the casino industry would have a direct negative impact on the local tourism economy, hitting every restaurant, retailer and hotel that operates near these entertainment epicenters.”

Studies show that iGaming could actually help retail casinos

There are currently two bills in the General Assembly to legalize Maryland online casinos.

In the past, arguments against online casino legislation have included concerns over the cannibalization of retail casino revenue. These arguments don’t account for the additional revenue potential from travelers who come to Maryland and want to play online, even if they don’t visit a casino or its surrounding area.

Additionally, online casino gaming can be a marketing tool for retail casinos. They can advertise incentives to bring players to retail casinos for special perks or discounts.

A recent study by research firm Eilers & Krejcik found that in the six states that have legal iGaming, retail casinos actually saw revenue increases.

Last year, a study by The Innovation Group for the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency found that retail casinos would see less than a 10% drop in revenue if iGaming is legalized in Maryland. It further pointed out that revenue losses would more than be made up by revenue from online casino gaming, especially if the iGaming licenses are tied to the retail casinos.

Maryland Retailers Alliance opposes online casinos. With no demographic data available, it’s hard to say how reliable the survey is.

Online casino bills still progressing in House and Senate

At the Maryland General Assembly, bills to legalize online casinos both faced hearings in the last week.

In the House Ways and Means Committee, lawmakers debated House Bill 1319 for nine hours on Feb. 26. Del. Vanessa Atteberry, the sponsor of HB 1319, argued that Marylanders are already gambling at illegal online casinos to the tune of $200 million a year. She said the state is missing out on millions of dollars in tax revenue by not regulating the industry.

The Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee debated many of the same points two days later.  Both Senate Bill 603 and HB 1319 would create a referendum for voters to make the final decision on online casinos.

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