Maryland sports betting bill passed to Governor

Maryland has moved another step closer to legalising sports betting after a Senate Bill 4 passed through the House.

If Governor Larry Hogan approves this, state residents will make the final decision in a referendum this November.

Amended edition rushed through 
The bill, introduced by Craig Zucker, contains amendments made by the House Committee on Means and Ways. The legislation has heavy edits, voted in favour by 129-3, to the annoyance of Senators. However, they also pass the amended version because Covid-19 meant that the legislative session was ending early. The Senator vote was a unanimous one of 45-0. 

The House Committee’s main amendment relates to the question that will be put forward if a referendum is held. This will now read as is written below.

“Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and event betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”. 

What else is included in the bill? 

Maryland operator licences will be available for $2.5 million, with a $250,000 annual renewal fee also required. Existing online brands are also able to offer sports betting for an operator which already has a licence. However, they must pay at least $5,000 to do this.

The vertical will also be legalised at three venues. One is Pimlico Race Course, with another being Laurel Park and Maryland State Fairgrounds. The third is FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins.

Despite being a ‘Washington‘ team, efforts are being made to keep the Redskins in Maryland. The NFL outfit is thinking about moving to Virginia, which is also striving to regulate sports betting. So, this was an attempt to strengthen their chances of staying.

No time to make desired changes 

The House wanted to take a closer look at the bill, but didn’t have the time- hence why just a skeleton bill was pushed through. While they were unable to examine the legislation further, they still wanted to offer the chance for voters to regulate sports betting.

Legislators wanted to change who was eligible for licences, with Nick Mosby being one such individual in favour of this. He wanted further discussions about this, after expressing concerns that marginalised groups wouldn’t be able to benefit as much from licences.

He told the Baltimore Sun that “It just compounded the concentration of wealth by limiting competition”.

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