Maryland has been making plenty of moves with regard to gambling in recent years. If you’re wondering when online casinos might be coming to the state, however, there’s no clear answer to that at this time.
For the time being, Maryland gambling efforts are focused on online sports betting, which launched Wednesday, Nov. 23. There are no prominent efforts to make online casinos a reality at this time.
However, it’s possible that the attention of lawmakers could shift to online casino legalization.
Whatever happens, this page is your one-stop shop for all of the relevant information about when online casinos might be coming to Maryland, which ones might be coming and how they might work.
Maryland online casino laws
Online casinos and/or online poker, however, are not legal under any explicit law in Maryland. They remain illegal activities in the eyes of the Maryland government.
|Are there legal online casinos in Maryland?||No.|
|When will online casinos be legal in Maryland?||It is not clear, but any potential legalization would happen after the launch of online sports betting.|
|What legal online options do you have now?||Sweepstakes and social online casinos can operate legally in Maryland.|
|Are there retail/physical casinos in Maryland?||Yes. Six retail casinos operate in the state.|
|How old do you have to be to gamble in Maryland?||Whether it’s in person or online, Maryland bettors must be 21 years or older.|
When might Maryland legalize online casinos?
No earlier than 2024, and probably later than that, if ever. The timeframe for any possible debut of online casinos in Maryland is extremely unclear. We only have some clues based on the current status of gambling in the state and in surrounding areas.
The launch of online sports betting was the top priority for Maryland lawmakers and regulators. With Maryland’s online sports betting launched, online casino momentum could come next when the dust settles. Only time will tell whether state lawmakers would like to proceed with an online casinos effort. A reasonable estimate would put the debut sometime in the middle of 2023. However, given the glacial pace of sports betting, a wait until 2024 is more likely.
Online casinos, then, would have to receive their own legislative and regulatory treatment, and there’s no indication such a bill is a priority on anyone’s mind.
Even after a potential bill drops, the earliest that the law could become effective would be summer 2023. Even if that happens, though, the same types of implementation and regulatory delays plaguing online sports betting could rear their heads once again. For that matter, there might even be a delay on legislation because lawmakers get gun-shy about the potential for another slog like sports betting.
The only element that might work in favor of pushing online casinos into law in Maryland is the presence of online casinos in neighboring states. West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and near-neighbor New Jersey all allow online casino gambling. Maryland is likely losing tax dollars over the border to these states.
Social and sweepstakes casinos
For now, the best options for online casino games in Maryland are social and sweepstakes casino sites. These sites offer games that mimic the types of slots and table games you’d find at actual casinos. Top social and sweepstakes casino sites include the following:
- Chumba Casino
- LuckyLand Slots
You can also play for fun on some of the social casino sites associated with retail casinos in Maryland. In particular, MGM National Harbor offers MGM Slots Live.
Retail casinos in Maryland
Maryland is home to six casino locations. Some of the biggest names in gambling count one of these as part of their portfolio. The properties range from large-scale casinos that would be comfortable in Atlantic City or Las Vegas to operations that are merely part of the larger slate of activities at a resort — right next to horseback riding or kayaking. Here are the options:
|Hollywood Casino Perryville||Perryville||Y||410-378-8500||Penn National|
|Horseshoe Casino Baltimore||Baltimore||Y||844-777-7463||Caesars|
|Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland||Hanover||Y||855-563-5483||Cordish|
|MGM National Harbor||Oxon Hill||Y||844-646-6847||MGM Resorts|
|Ocean Downs Casino||Berlin||N||410-641-0600||Churchill Downs|
|Rocky Gap Casino Resort||Flintstone||N||800-724-0828||Golden*|
*Golden Entertainment has agreed to sell Rocky Gap to Century Casinos/VICI Properties.
Is it legal to gamble at offshore casinos?
Maryland law does not specifically allow the practice, regardless of what such offshore sites might claim online.
The legal question
Casino sites like Bovada, America’s Cardroom and BetOnline are based in countries outside the US. As a catch-all term, we refer to these outfits as “offshore” casinos. They offer all manner of casino games, but there is no law on the books in Maryland that allows them to do so.
The reason that they are able to operate, though, is because there’s no law specifically prohibiting them, either. So they can claim that they are not running afoul of any law in the state.
However, the debate about their legality is largely immaterial and irrelevant to our primary concerns about them. The real dangers lie in the logistics of using these outlets.
The real issues
Because offshore casino sites operate from outside the United States, they do not have to follow US law. Were you to encounter any disputes with such a site, your options for seeking redress would be limited. The site could refuse to issue you a withdrawal, lock your account or simply close up shop, and there would be nothing you could do about it.
While these sites may claim that they have an agency overseeing their operations, there’s no way to discern if the agency has any real authority or power to do anything. Even if it does, there’s no way to confirm its impartiality.
Finally, even if the site’s ownership does endeavor to operate fairly, it may not properly protect your information. Remember, you have to provide personal and banking details in order to play. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t risk your financial security or identity over a $5 bet on a virtual blackjack table.
Problem gambling support in Maryland
Most Maryland gamblers can place their wagers and emerge none the worse for wear. Unfortunately, there are also people in the state who gamble to an unhealthy degree. Thankfully, Maryland allocates government resources to address problem gambling.
In fact, the law requires that each casino in the state pays hundreds of dollars for each game that it offers on its floor to fund responsible gambling efforts. As a result, you can get help in Maryland without spending a dime of your own money. Your best resource is the Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling.
This organization, which is part of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, can help connect you with counseling, peer support groups and educational resources about how to control your gambling. All services are free, including referrals to counselors and treatment from the counselors. You can either visit the website for the MCEPG through the link above, or you can call/text 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) to speak to a trained referral specialist. The phone line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A similar organization is the Maryland Council on Problem Gambling. This group, the state affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling, can also connect you with treatment providers. The MCPG is also heavily involved with educating Marylanders about the realities of problem gambling and the ways to fight against it. The organization routinely advocates on behalf of all problem gamblers in the state.
A third option for problem gamblers and their families is peer support groups in the state. These groups can provide empathy, support, accountability and strategies to push back against the desire to gamble. Top support groups or outlets include the following:
- Gamblers Anonymous — Multiple in-person meetings around Maryland each week.
- Gamtalk — Online peer support forum available 24/7.
- Gam-Anon — Support group for families and friends of problem gamblers.
Finally, Maryland does offer a “nuclear” option for problem gamblers. The state’s voluntary exclusion program allows you, under the threat of criminal trespass, to bar yourself from entering the premises of any Maryland gambling facility and/or purchasing lottery tickets. You must remain on the list for no less than two years, and removal from the list is subject to the approval of the gambling commission, which will require you to undergo an assessment by a counselor. Family members and friends cannot act as proxies to put you on the list. It is the most severe option, but it can be a lifesaving one if you know that things are never going to change.
Maryland online casino FAQ
Are online casinos legal in Maryland?
No. Any online casinos that you find if you conduct a web search from the state are offshore casinos that are operating outside the bounds of US and Maryland law.
Who will regulate online casinos if Maryland legalizes them?
In all likelihood, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. Although there is no online casino bill on the horizon in the state at the moment, the agency is the most obvious choice to regulate online casinos should they become legal.
How much money do retail casinos in Maryland generate?
Roughly $2 billion per year. According to records from the state, the six casinos generate between $160 million and $185 million in revenue each month, and revenues from FY 2022 surpassed the $2 billion mark for the first time in state history.
Who would operate online casinos in Maryland if legalized?
If Maryland legalizes online casinos, the companies that own the six land-based casinos in the state seem the likeliest to operate online sites. Companies like BetMGM, Caesars and Penn National Gaming would likely be the recipients of licenses or license eligibility if the time came.
Can you use BetMGM Casino in Maryland?
No. Online casino gambling is not legal in the state, so you won’t be able to play online games at BetMGM Casino until that changes.