After Hogan’s Signature, Maryland Sportsbooks Are Officially Legal

Posted on May 18, 2021 - Last Updated on July 19, 2021

After some initial uncertainty, it’s now official: Sports betting is legal and coming to the state of Maryland.

Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday signed HB 940 during a ceremony at the State House in Annapolis.

The bill addresses both sports betting and daily fantasy sports.

The House of Delegates passed the MD sports betting bill on March 11. Then, after a flurry of amendments geared mainly toward the number of Maryland sports betting licenses, the Senate unanimously passed the bill on April 12.

Hogan was scheduled to sign more than 200 bills during Tuesday’s ceremony. Therefore, it was a bit surprising when initially HB 940 wasn’t part of the group. But on Tuesday, the bill, titled “Regulation of Fantasy Gaming Competitions and Implementation of Sports Wagering,” joined the pile.

An exact timetable for the launch of legal and regulated sports betting won’t be known for some time. However, stakeholders are targeting the start of the 2021-22 NFL season in September as a goal.

With HB 940, a robust MD sports betting market awaits

MD voters were clearly supportive of a legal sports betting market. This past November, Maryland Question 2, Sports Betting Measure (2020), passed with more than two-thirds of the vote. The Senate designated it an emergency bill so Hogan would put it into effect as soon as he signed it.

Even without Hogan’s signature, HB 940 would have automatically become law 30 days after it reached the governor’s desk. However, the Republican governor pledged support for the bill, which a Democratic General Assembly put before him with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Maryland is now the 23rd US state with legal, regulated sports betting industries. Neighboring Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Washington, DC, and Delaware all launched before Maryland. However, the Old Line State should be one of the most competitive markets in the region, if not the country.

That’s because the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission could issue more than 100 sports-betting licenses as the market matures.

Who’s eligible for MD sports betting licenses?

Class A licenses will be issued to the largest in-person (retail) establishments. They include:

  • Casinos, including Live! Casino & Hotel (in Hanover) and Horseshoe Casino Baltimore
  • Stadiums for the Baltimore Ravens (M&T Bank Stadium), Baltimore Orioles (Camden Yards) and Washington Football Team (FedExField)
  • Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park thoroughbred racing tracks
  • Any new NBA, NHL and MLS franchises that open in or move to Maryland

Online sportsbooks in Maryland will also need a Class A license. Major established brands include the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel, which financially backed MD legalization efforts. However, the newly established Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) will need to first assure minority participation. In all, the state could issue 60 online licenses.

Additionally, Class B licenses can be issued to the following facilities:

  • Maryland State Fair
  • Off-track betting facilities
  • Commercial bingo halls with at least 200 electronic machines
  • Select bars and restaurants

How sports betting tax revenue will be used

MD sports betting operators will pay a tax of 15% on revenue.

It’s a middle-of-the-road rate among US sports betting states. It’s also identical to the Virginia tax rate for sports betting operators.

The state will use the tax revenue to support historically Black colleges and universities in Maryland, including Bowie State University and Morgan State University. It’ll also support K-12 education in the state.

Additionally, officials will earmark a portion of Class A licensing fees for the Small, Minority-Owned, and Women-Owned Business Sports Wagering Assistance Fund.

Photo by AP / Julio Cortez
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