Maryland Governor Signs Sports-Betting Bill into Law

The bill allows for as many as 60 mobile and online sportsbooks to operate. Maryland, home to the Baltimore Ravens, is one of more than 20 states that have legalized sports betting.

Photo By – USA TODAY Sports

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has signed a bill into law that will allow legal sports betting in the Mid-Atlantic state to begin as soon as possible, and that could create a highly competitive market for online wagers. 

A majority of Maryland voters supported legalizing sports betting when asked about it by a November 2020 ballot measure. Legislation implementing those wishes was then passed by the state’s Democratic Party-controlled legislature in April and sent to Gov. Hogan, a Republican.

Along with more than 200 other bills, Gov. Hogan gave the final stamp of approval on Tuesday to legislation “to legalize sports betting in the state of Maryland,” he told reporters. 

Maryland is one of more than 20 states that have now legalized sports betting in some form following a landmark decision in 2018 by the Supreme Court of the United States. Maryland is also bordered by states that have already legalized, such as Pennsylvania

A potentially vast market 

The bill signed Tuesday allows for as many as 60 mobile and online sportsbooks, “by far the largest number among states that impose a cap on licensees,” according to lawyer Zachery Roth, of law firm White and Williams LLP. 

“Maryland’s sports betting bill is among the most inclusive to date and is clearly intended to foster competition by reducing barriers to entry for smaller firms and promoting diversity,” Roth wrote in an April article on the bill.

A company that has been licensed to conduct mobile sports betting in Maryland can partner with another firm to actually conduct the wagering on its behalf as well. That firm can partner with more than one mobile licensee (which are limited to working with only one online sports wagering operator), and will require a license of its own to operate.

Retail sportsbooks could also be opened up at professional sports stadiums, casinos, and race tracks in the state, as well as by up to 30 other license holders for brick-and-mortar wagering facilities.

There are provisions in the bill intended to ensure diversity, such as by requiring a new Sports Wagering Application Review Commission to consider race and gender when awarding licenses. 

“This year, we’ve specifically looked at legislation through the lens of inclusion,” said Adrienne Jones, speaker of the state’s House of Delegates, during the media event on Tuesday. “That’s why I’m particularly proud that we will sign legislation that opens up opportunities in the industry of sports betting to minorities and women.” 

The State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission will regulate sports betting in Maryland, which could start this year for residents aged 21 or older. The sports-betting legislation is technically an “emergency bill,” meaning it becomes law immediately after being signed by the governor. 

According to a breakdown by the American Gaming Association, there will be a 15-per-cent tax on sports-betting revenue.

Fees for the five-year licenses in the state will be on a sliding scale, from US$2 million initially for big casinos to as low as US$50,000 for a smaller sportsbook. The application fee for a mobile wagering license will be US$500,000.


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