Why Doesn’t Maryland Sports Betting Revenue Go To Responsible Gambling Initiatives?

Written By Connie Reinert on March 31, 2023
Maryland has resources to combat problem gambling

Four months ago, online sports betting launched in Maryland. With access to gambling just a click away, the number of people in the state struggling with a gambling addiction will certainly grow.

Sports betting will likely contribute to all-time high tax revenues received by the state. Surprisingly, none of the sports betting tax revenue funds problem gambling resources.

Where does MD sports betting revenue go?

Maryland taxes sports betting revenue at 15%. All those funds are allocated to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund. The Blueprint’s mission is to transform the state’s public schools into a world-class educational system.

Maryland Lottery and Gaming generated an all-time high of $1.511 billion in contributions to the state in fiscal year 2022. This includes funds from the lottery, casino gaming, sports wagering and fantasy competitions.

The lottery profits totaled $673.7 million, with casino contributions adding $832.3 million. Sports wagering and fantasy competitions dumped on another $5.6 million. In fiscal year 2021, $1.391 billion was generated. The state has six licensed casinos and five retail sportsbooks.

Total revenue for all gambling operations for FY2023 already exceeds $1 billion. Maryland Lottery and Gaming is Maryland’s fourth-largest source of revenue after income, sales and corporate taxes. Just like sports betting, the Maryland Lottery does not contribute to problem gambling resources.

But neighboring states contribute less than Maryland to aid problem gamblers

Maryland provides the problem gambling fund with a contribution of 0.2% of the casino tax revenue. That amounted to $4.4 million in FY2022.

That provides help for anyone at risk for a gambling addiction. Free services include prevention and rehab programs, inpatient and outpatient services, counseling and education.

Neighboring Pennsylvania contributes a flat rate toward its Problem Gambling Treatment Fund each year. Currently, that figure is $2 million each year.

Meanwhile, in West Virginia, between $150,000 and $500,000 is appropriated to The Compulsive Gambling Treatment Fund. This account is funded by gambling operations in the state.

State Sen. Bryan Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel) told the Capital News Service more should be done in Maryland.

“From a governmental policy standpoint, the state receives money from gambling revenues that can be used to help other priorities in our state, but also adversely enables many citizens to become gambling addicts which creates other issues for the state.”

Problem gambling resources in Maryland

Maryland residents are eligible for no-cost counseling through the Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling. The center is a program of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. It receives funding from the Maryland Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Administration.

According to the center:

  • 50% of people struggling with problems due to gambling have had thoughts of suicide
  • 33% of Maryland high school students gamble, even though it is illegal for those under age 18
  • 2% of older adults in Maryland are problem gamblers
  • Nearly 10% of US veterans struggle with disordered gambling

The responsibilities of the Problem Gambling Fund are:

  • Establish a 24-hour hotline for counseling services
  • Establish an outreach program for compulsive and problem gamblers

Signs that gambling is becoming a problem and strategies to fight it

Mary Drexler, director of the Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling, says studies show that 1-6% of adults have a gambling disorder. Drexler provides warning signs and strategies to stay safe.

Warning signs

Drexler says “Yes” answers to the following questions can indicate a problem with gambling:

  • Are you preoccupied with gambling?
  • Do you have gambling withdrawal symptoms?
  • Are you hiding gambling activity?

Strategies to keep safe if you are having a problem with gambling

  • Visualize the negative impact of gambling. Consider how you will feel if you give in to gambling, or worse, lose all your money.
  • Connect with people. When the urge to gamble hits, call or meet up with a friend or family member.
  • Talk about it. Fight the urge to gamble with mindfulness and visualize time doing something else.
  • Make an alternative plan. Try another activity to avoid the craving to gamble.

Information on free counseling and other resources is available by calling 1-800-GAMBLER. Text and chat services are also available.

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Connie Reinert

Connie J. Reinert has a long history of work in the news industry with roles as designer, photographer, reporter to being a publisher/owner. Much of her current work focuses on being a good story teller.

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