A legislative proposal to allow credit card payments on iGaming events hosted by nonprofits could propel efforts to legalize online casinos in Maryland.
The Frederick County Council is considering pursuing a change in state law that would allow residents to use their credit cards to play online games of chance that benefit nonprofit organizations. In this case, it’s online fundraising by the local fire department.
Maryland law prohibits credit card payments on most gambling endeavors, including buying lottery tickets through the Maryland Lottery. Residents, however, can purchase tickets with a credit card through a third party. Also, credit cards are OK for online sports betting.
A path to online casinos in Maryland?
Maryland online casinos and online poker are illegal in the state. An iGaming bill, SB267, was introduced in the last session of the General Assembly but failed to gain any traction. The bill will likely carry over to next year’s session.
If approved, the bill would amend the Maryland Constitution to allow online casino games. The final decision would be left to voters through a referendum on the November 2024 ballot.
The Comptroller’s Office estimates that nearly $100 million could go to the Education Trust Fund from online casino gaming by 2028. And, that estimate assumes that internet gaming would begin in 2026. It also assumes that participation to some extent would be a substitute for other gaming options available in the state.
Currently, The Innovation Group is conducting a study on iGaming in Maryland. The company was chosen by the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA). It has been tasked with evaluating:
- The prospective market size
- The potential impact to retail casino locations
- The potential impact on the lottery system
- The potential impact on problem gambling
- Results from other states with legal online casinos
MLGCA must submit a report to the Maryland General Assembly by Nov. 15.
Charitable gaming in Maryland
In Maryland, counties regulate charitable gaming. Twenty-one of 23 counties allow it. A qualified organization is any organization that has registered with the Charitable Organization Division with the Secretary of State.
An organization must register with the county and submit an application before holding any charitable fundraising event. A permit is required for an organization that wants to use bingo, raffles, punchboards, wheels of fortune, chance books, paddle wheels and tip jars for fundraising. In the case of a volunteer fire department, the annual permit fee is $137.
Introduced by Councilman Mason Carter, the proposed amendment to Maryland law from the Frederick County Council states:
Allow fire companies to utilize online raffles as a method for fundraising as the cost of their operations continues to increase. State law needs to be altered to allow nonprofit corporations and others to accept payment via credit cards for gaming events.
The council voted to set up a hearing to collect more information before considering a vote on it the following week.