Online Casino Bill Passes Maryland House Vote Just Ahead Of Deadline

Written By Valerie Cross on March 17, 2024 - Last Updated on March 18, 2024
Maryland House passes iGaming Bill on to Senate

The House voted on Saturday to approve a bill that would make Maryland online casinos legal.

HB1319 passed the Maryland House by a vote of 92-43 during a special session held two days before the March 18 deadline for bills to advance from the House to the Senate. Outside of amendments and a vote, there was little in the way of further discussion of the bill during Saturday’s session.

The bill’s sponsor, Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, did respond to amendments and once again emphasized the need for lawmakers to regulate this form of gambling that is already happening in the state, but without consumer protections.

“Currently, in the state of Maryland, there is illegal iGaming going on to the tune of about $200 million a year where individuals are playing where there are no safeguards on there,” Atterbeary said.

The next stop for HB1319 is the Maryland Senate, which has an April 8 deadline for passing constitutional amendments that would go on the November ballot.

Recent amendments to Maryland’s online casino bill

Atterbeary’s Maryland iGaming bill has undergone extensive discussion on the House floor in recent weeks. On Friday, the bill got a key amendment in the form of a Video Lottery Employee Displacement Fund. That update intends to appease those concerned that online casino sites could cut into land-based casino foot traffic and thus lead to job losses.

While four of the state’s casinos openly support the addition of legal iCasinos in Maryland, two others have spoken out against it. Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland and Ocean Downs Casino & Racetrack cited potential job loss as their primary reason for not supporting iGaming legislation.

While there is ample data that supports that internet gaming is more likely to increase retail casino business, the amendment could help alleviate concerns about displaced workers.

Other recent updates to the House iGaming bill include:

  • Number of iCasino licenses bumped from 12 to 30.
  • Requires land-based casino partners to give 5% of iGaming revenue share to a social equity partner.
  • Bans the use of credit cards for internet casino gaming.

Most new amendments struck down

This version of the House Bill did not change much during Saturday’s session, despite some proposed amendments. One concession, proposed by Del. Linda Foley, dealt with the labor peace agreement. The amendment requires that the online casino licensee or live dealer studio employer remain neutral in a union drive.

Proposed amendments that were rejected on Saturday were:

  • Requiring internet gaming deposits be made in person.
  • Requiring customers to prove their identity in person when creating an online casino account.
  • Mandating two-factor authentication when opening an iGaming account.
  • Limiting wagers to $5 and cap total bets at $100 in a 24-hour period.

Next stop: The Senate floor

For iGaming to become legal in Maryland this time around, HB1319 would have to pass the Senate before they adjourn on April 8. At that time, the referendum would head to the November ballot. Maryland voters would have to approve the measure for internet casinos and poker to become a reality.

But before voters can get that chance, the bill may have a tough road ahead in the Senate. Sen. Ron Watson has indicated that Senate leadership may not be as keen as the House to pass an online casino bill at this time. Earlier this week, he told

“The general consensus of the Senate is that a balanced budget has been developed and submitted. And, as such, no new taxes are required, nor are they ready to entertain this new revenue stream.”

Atterbeary and other lawmakers see legal iGaming revenue as a potential key funding source to support Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund. Whether enough members of the Senate see it as such may impact the bill’s chances to go up for a popular vote this year.

Photo by AP Photo/Brian Witte
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Valerie Cross

Valerie Cross is Editor-in-Chief of Catena Media’s regional sites portfolio which includes mature gambling market sites like PlayPennsylvania, PlayMichigan and PlayNJ as well as emerging markets. Valerie was a poker writer and editor for PokerNews before joining the regulated sports betting and online gambling industry with Catena Media in 2019. She received her BA from Furman University in 2007 in Spanish and Psychology and completed her MA and Ph.D. at Indiana University in Language Education.

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