Maryland House Speaker Introduces Inclusive Sports Betting Bill

Posted on February 2, 2021 - Last Updated on July 19, 2021

Maryland’s new sports betting bill would allow a wide range of operators in the state, with a particular eye on generating minority participation.

The legislation authorizes sports betting at six land-based casinos, three racetrack properties, five smaller properties that may include restaurants and bars, M&T Bank Stadium, FedExField, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and 10 mobile sports betting operators.

The bill is sponsored by House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones. She is the first African-American and the first woman to serve as speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates.

Lawmakers are responding to Maryland voters, who legalized sports betting by nearly a two-to-one margin in November.

Introduced Tuesday, H 940 was assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee. Dels. Eric Ebersole, Edith Patterson and Darryl Barnes, who worked with the Speaker on the bill, all serve on the committee.

Details of Maryland sports betting bill

Allowing participation from all of those sectors creates a complicated bill. Here are some of key details:

  • Appoints the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission as regulator.
  • Creates a Class A license for sports wagering facilities. These may include the six casinos with video lottery terminals, Pimlico Race Course (home of the Preakness Stakes), Laurel Park, Timonium Race Course, a stadium used for professional football or baseball.
  • Permits no more than 10 mobile sports wagering licenses.
  • Allows no more than five Class B sports wagering facilities.
  • Requires that Class B licenses not be located within 10 miles of any Class A or other Class B facility.
  • Sets initial fees for sports wagering licenses as $250,000 for a Class A license, renewable for $50,000; $500,000 for a mobile license, renewable for $100,000; $50,000 for a Class B license, renewable or $10,000.
  • Permits wagers on professional sports, collegiate sports, esports and Olympic or international sporting events.
  • Sets a tax rate of 15% on retail wagers. For mobile wagers, there is a tiered tax rate of 15% for the first $5 million in proceeds in a calendar year, 17.5% thereafter.

The types of facilities allowed to apply for a Class B license are not explained in the bill, but Ebersole previously told PlayMaryland that lawmakers were considering including bars and restaurants as possible sports wagering licensees.

Striving for minority-owned sports betting facilities

Last year, Maryland lawmakers attempted to pass a full-fledged sports betting bill along with the ballot question. However, the bill faced inclusion concerns from the Legislative Black Caucus that having sports betting only offered through existing Maryland gambling facilities would exacerbate the lack of diversity in the state’s gaming industry.

House bill 940 makes clear that this legislation looks to address those concerns:

It is the intent of the General Assembly that this subtitle is to be implemented in a manner that, to the extent permitted by state and federal law, maximizes the ability of minority and women-owned businesses to participate in the sports wagering industry.

To promote minority participation, the bill:

  • Establishes a Sports Wagering Application Review Commission.
  • Orders that the commission evaluates a study of the sports wagering industry and market to determine whether there is a compelling interest to implement remedial measures to assist minorities and women in the sports wagering industry.
  • Adopt regulations to implement remedial measures based on the findings of the study.
  • Evaluate race-neutral programs or other methods to address the needs of minority and women-owned businesses seeking to participate in the sports wagering industry.
  • Applicants have the option to renew with a five-year license with the renewal fee equal to 1% of licensee’s average annual gross sports wagering revenues for the preceding five-year period.

Bill also seeks to regulate fantasy sports

House bill 940 also includes regulation of daily fantasy sports. Details include:

  • Appoints the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission as regulator.
  • A fantasy competition operator pays $50,000 for the initial license and each annual renewal.
  • Fantasy operators pay a 15% tax rate.
Matthew Kredell Avatar
Written by
Matthew Kredell

Matthew has covered efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling since 2007. His reporting on the legalization of sports betting began in 2010 with an article for Playboy Magazine on how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting the expansion of regulated sports betting. A USC journalism alum, Matt started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News and has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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