Gaming Panel Says Maryland Likely To Be Next State With Online Casinos

Written By Steve Schult on March 7, 2024
A picture of a speaker for a story about how industry experts told listeners Maryland was likely to next to legalize online casinos at an internet gaming panel in New York.

Prominent figures in the gambling industry believe Maryland is a frontrunner to be the next state with online casinos.

Several industry experts, regulators, and lawmakers spoke about internet gambling Wednesday at a panel in New York. Their consensus opinion was the Old Line State will be one of the next to legalize the industry.

According to an ABC News report, Shawn Fluharty and Brandt Iden both listed Maryland as the next launch target.

New York and California were also mentioned during the same discussion. However, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul took online casinos out of her budget for this year, and some panelists scoffed at the idea of the Golden State legalizing iGaming.

Fluharty is a West Virginia state delegate and the chairman of the National Council of Legislators from Gambling States. Iden is the vice president of government affairs for Fanatics Betting and Gaming.

Education is one of the main hurdles for Maryland iGaming

There are two bills in the legislature looking to legalize, tax and regulate Maryland online casinos. The state needs to fund its “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” plan, which helps further fund the education system.

Online casinos are being explored to raise the necessary revenues to plug the shortfalls.

Despite the need for new revenue streams, there are still a ton of lawmakers ignorant of the nuances of the new market.

“We talk about iGaming and they think we are talking about video games,” Iden said.

Iden testified twice in front of Maryland lawmakers last week. First at a House hearing for HB 1319 and again two days later in the Senate for SB 603 and SB 565.

He spoke on behalf of the Sports Betting Alliance, which represents FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Fanatics. During his time in the lower chamber, he fielded several questions from lawmakers.

Most of them focused on responsible gaming measures. And it was clear they didn’t understand the process.

A few didn’t understand how the operators could verify a customer’s age. But it’s the same process used in the Maryland online sports betting market, launched in November 2022.

Fluharty added, according to ABC News, that he has “colleagues who struggle to silence their phones, and we’re going to tell them gambling can be done on their phones?”

Where do the bills stand?

Thus far, both bills have only been in committee hearings. In other words, there’s only been discussion about them from a small subsection of the legislature.

Both proposals still need to be passed by the committees and a general floor vote. Then, lawmakers in the other chamber need to pass it before it heads to the governor’s desk.

Normally, the governor’s signature is the end of the process. However, since these bills deal with gaming expansion, voters must pass the issue. The sole purpose of SB 565 is to phrase the question.

The question would read, “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?”

Possible timeline

With the ballot proposal aspect of Maryland’s online casino legislation, legalization can’t truly happen until November. Then, regulators would need to craft the rules for the new industry and start the licensing process.

This likely won’t be done quickly given the state’s history with sports betting expansion. For those hoping for legalization, mid-2025 might be the earliest an online casino pops up in Maryland.

Photo by PlayMaryland
Steve Schult Avatar
Written by
Steve Schult

Steve Schult has covered the gambling world for the last decade. With stints as a staff writer for the World Series of Poker and Bluff Magazine, as well as the online content manager for Card Player Media, the New York native covered high-stakes poker tournaments and the overall casino industry. He’ll shift most of his focus to the Virginia, Maryland and Florida markets as a managing editor for Catena Media.

View all posts by Steve Schult
Privacy Policy