House Committee Pushes Expanded And Inclusive Sports Betting Plan

Posted on March 5, 2021

Maryland sports betting is on the move with some significant changes.

The Maryland House Ways and Means Committee advanced H 940 Friday with more than a dozen amendments.

Many of the changes increased potential licensees in what is turning out to be a very inclusive bill.

Given that the bill is sponsored by House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, it likely won’t have to wait long for a vote on the House floor.

Changes to Maryland sports betting bill

Here are some of the key changes to the sports wagering legislation:

  • Increases the number of mobile sports wagering licenses available from 10 to 15.
  • The bill previously allowed sports betting at the stadiums of the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens through casino partnerships. Now the teams or stadiums themselves can acquire a Class A retail-only license.
  • Adds the Riverboat on the Potomac off-track betting parlor as a horse racing licensee eligible for a Class A retail-only license.
  • Increased number of Class B retail-only licenses from five to 10. These are meant for smaller, possibly minority-owned Maryland businesses.
  • Expands the definition of “sporting event” to include “awards events” such as the Oscars.
  • Extends Pimlico’s retail-only license to allow for betting at the facility on race days and on days where it hosts an event with more than 2,000 attendees.
  • Clarifies that retail betting can occur at Timonium as a subsidiary of the state fair.
  • Prohibits wagers related to penalties and injuries, or other wagers “contrary to public policy.”
  • Excludes promotional play from taxes.
  • Clarified that the intent of the General Assembly is that “minority and woman participation in sports wagering” includes equity ownership

Many of the changes were made in response to testimony at last week’s committee hearing.

Additional details of Maryland legislation

The Maryland House put together a comprehensive bill to regulate sports betting. Here are some of the main details in the bill at introduction:

  • Appoints the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission as the regulator.
  • 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.
  • Provides extensive language on promoting participation from minority-owned businesses, including the creation of a Sports Wagering Application Review Commission.
  • Also regulates fantasy sports and sets a 15% tax rate.

When is sports betting coming to Maryland?

Maryland voters legalized sports betting last November, tasking lawmakers with creating implementation language.

The House took that order seriously and is on the way to passing legislation first. The Senate has been meandering along with a work group that has yet to produce a bill.

Given that the House and Senate had many differences in their proposals last session and don’t seem to be on the same page this year, the issue is likely to go to a conference committee at the end of the session. Maryland’s legislative session runs to April 12.

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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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