Two Gambling Bills Die In House, Only Online Casino Bill Remains

Written By Phil West on April 4, 2024 - Last Updated on April 8, 2024
A picture of a legislative binder for a story about failed Maryland gambling bills.

Maryland House members failed to push a pair of gambling bills to the upper chamber.

Neither House Bill 1291 or House Bill 1087 made it to the Senate. As a result, Marylanders don’t have much hope on the gambling expansion front for 2024.

HB 1291 required sports wagering operators to be audited by third-party independent evaluators. HB 1087 prohibited online gambling on college campuses across the state. Neither bill received a vote in the House. Thus, the bills are dead for this year.

However, a bill to legalize online casinos passed the House and is still under Senate consideration days before the 2024 legislative session ends.

Time running out to pass online casino legislation

The measure to legalize Maryland online casinos, House Bill 1319, could face the same fate as HB 1291 and HB 1087. The session ends on April 8, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of momentum to pass it in the Senate.

HB 1319 would “authoriz[e] the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to issue certain licenses to certain qualified applicants to conduct or participate in certain internet gaming operations in the state.” It passed the House by a 92-43 vote. It’s currently lingering in a Senate committee.

Despite sponsor Del. Vanessa Atterbeary seeing iGaming as a significant revenue source for Maryland, the bill has its opponents in the Senate.

State senator says no room for online casino bill after budget was balanced

Sen. Ron Watson, the author of a Senate bill to legalize online casinos, recently said HB 1319 isn’t needed. He said the state already has a balanced budget, so his bill also died.

“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.”

But Atterbeary told Maryland Matters that her bill is necessary.

“We made it very clear that our members are interested in doing something for the Blueprint, for transportation this session and taking any type of hard vote this session and not next session. We’re going to send over what we think is the right thing to do.”

Legislators passed the landmark education bill in 2021. The Maryland State Board of Education aims to “increase education funding by $3.8 billion each year over the next 10 years.”

According to a Washington Post report, the state is finalizing a budget. The new plan should keep the Blueprint fund on track through 2027. This is partly due to $340 million in new taxes and fees. It includes a $1.25-a-pack tax on cigarettes expected to generate $80 to $90 million.

Photo by PlayMaryland
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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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