With more than six million people calling Maryland their home, it is surprising that it is the last of Mid-Atlantic states to legalize sports betting. The state is also home to several critical professional sports teams.
Nonetheless, thanks to the voter’s approval in November 2020 referendum, sports betting will be widely available across Maryland soon. Governor Larry Hogan also signed Bill HB 940 or Maryland’s sports-betting bill in mid-May, resulting in the state deciding to launch sports betting ahead of the 2021 NFL season. However, even in late July, with less than 50 days until all-important NFL season, a few regulatory hurdles still need to be addressed.
The Lottery and Gaming Control Commission on July 15th this year passed a set of regulations for sports betting in MD. This can be considered a great initial step toward legal wagering in the state. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other hurdles to overcome.
This article will take a closer look at everything you need to know about sports betting legalization in Maryland.
Maryland Legislature Approves the Sports Betting Bill
After months of struggle, Maryland finally got a sports betting bill both through the State House and the State Senate. The bill initially came from the House of Representatives in Maryland. However, the reworked Senate version was the one that received the final approval. On Monday, April 12th, 2021, the Senate and the House came together to pass the bill and put together a set of rules for sports betting.
The bill is regarded as one of the largest to have ever passed in the United States. It hands out licenses to a record 60 online sportsbooks, plus an additional 30 retail licenses. The retail licenses are meant for a sports team, commercial casinos, small businesses like restaurants, small sporting arenas, bars, and fairgrounds. This number surpasses every other state where sports betting has been legalized up until this point.
Everything related to sports betting, such as regulating, licensing, and overseeing all the wagering activities within the state, will be performed by the Maryland Gaming Commission. The state government has also announced that they will be setting the tax rate at 15 percent for the most prominent retail vendors and online sportsbooks. On the other hand, secondary retail license holders will be taxed 13 percent on the gross revenue.
According to the bill, the licensing fee for major retail operators will be $250,000, and minor retail operators will pay $50,000 for licenses. Additionally, the annual charge for major and minor operators are set at $50,000 and $10,000, respectively. Contrarily, online sportsbooks will be charged $500,000 if they wish to apply and bag an annual fee of $100,000.
What’s better, unlike in other states like Virginia and New Jersey, residents of Maryland can also bet on in-state collegiate programs.
When Will Sports Betting Kick-Off in Maryland?
As stated earlier, Maryland sports betting is expected to launch in the latter half of 2021, before the NFL season. According to state officials, we are looking at September 1, 2021, as the target launch date.
Until then, Maryland residents who can’t wait to wager on sports do have other options they can try. Five jurisdictions that border this state—Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Washington, DC, Delaware, and Virginia—offer numerous types of legal sports betting.
Despite Maryland’s size, the state holds a solid fan base for its local sports teams. What’s more, it is easy to get to from many other populous states. Hence, you can be sure it will pose an excellent destination for legal wagering in the future.
What About Online Sports Betting in Maryland?
Like offline sports betting, online sports betting will also launch right in time for the 2021 NFL season. So by the first week of September, bettors in Maryland will ideally have a good number of betting apps or sites available to them. After all, 60 prospective mobile licenses are on the table, so a lot of popular sportsbooks can enter the market quickly.
For instance, DraftKings and FanDuel have offered financial assistance to support the legalization of sports betting in Maryland. So, it would stand as a reason for both these operators to grab their share of the market.