Maryland should seriously consider legalizing sports betting for the sake of funding education

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of sports betting. However, the ruling still left the final decision to each individual state. While casinos in neighboring states Pennsylvania and West Virginia added sports books, Maryland continues to consider putting a wager on sports games an illegal activity.

According to the estimates of the American Gaming Association, about $150 billion is wagered illegally by Americans on sports each year. With the state having a tough time finding funds for education, it makes sense to at least consider the legalization of sports betting. Making the activity legal allows the state to use the generated revenue to fund education. While it clearly won’t be sufficient to cover all the costs, every potential source of money helps.

Sports betting is a popular form of gambling – one of the most popular, in fact. While Maryland hasn’t made the activity legal, the state isn’t exactly a no gambling zone. It has six land-based casinos that are reporting healthy numbers. Plans are in place to use some of that revenue to fund education in the state. However, more financial help is needed to support the nearly $4 billion in education reforms proposed by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, also known as the Kirwan commission.

Gambling is a billion-dollar industry. With the thriving scene in Maryland, the state could very well have a financial resource to tap into in order to fund important services like education.

The state of gambling in Maryland

Maryland is no stranger to gambling. It has a rich horse racing tradition, with the Preakness Stakes (one of the three Triple Crown thoroughbred horse racing events) held at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore each year.

Other than betting on a horse race, other forms of gambling aren’t allowed in the state. While neighboring states grabbed the opportunity to establish sports books following the overturning of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act by the Supreme Court in 2018, Maryland didn’t follow suit.

As it stands, the state doesn’t permit online gambling and sports betting, which is a shame since the state is home to the Baltimore Ravens, a professional football team playing in the NFL.

Surely, many residents would want to place bets predicting successful outcomes for each of the state’s sports teams or play casino games within the comfort of their homes. While reading up on reviews of casino and sports betting sites on won’t result in jail time, the actual act of placing a bet online might get someone into trouble. Despite the restrictions, many still gamble illegally. For instance, offshore sports books not in Maryland’s jurisdiction still offer online betting despite being an illegal activity in the state.

Lawmakers in the state have attempted to make sports betting legal. In 2018, a bill was introduced in the House that called for the creation of a task force to study the implementation of sports gaming. However, no progress was made on that one.

Revenues from gambling can be a source legislators can tap into to fund several services, including education. The good news is that for 2019, several lawmakers are looking to push for the expansion of legalized gambling to include being able to wager on professional sports teams and even contests.

The case for sports betting

A case can definitely be made for the legalization of sports betting in Maryland. In December 2018, the D.C. Council voted to legalize sports betting. Lawmakers in the state are hoping to follow suit but as far as implementation goes, certain issues still need to be ironed out.

In terms of public approval, a poll conducted by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland found that 53% of the state’s registered voters are in favor of the expansion of gambling to include sports betting.

The Baltimore Ravens play in the NFL, one of the biggest sports leagues in the U.S. The team had an impressive performance this season, reaching as far as the AFC Wild Card Playoffs. Although the team lost to the Los Angles Chargers, many were willing to bet they would reach the Super Bowl.

If sports betting had been legal in the state, the money waged in favor of the Ravens could have been used to fund education. Permitting the activity in the state also ensures that residents who want to wager on sports can do so without fear of being sent to jail.