Will Maryland Legalize Sports Betting This November? - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Will Maryland Legalize Sports Betting This November?

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Back in March, Maryland was in the process of legalizing sports betting. Then the pandemic hit and everything not essential was deprioritized. With no time to discuss the sports gambling bill, state legislators invited voters to pass or reject the bill in November.

After the news went public, it didn’t take long for betting investors to sponsor campaigns advocating sports betting legalization. Daily Fantasy Sports giants DraftKings and FanDuel raised $750,000 to “Vote Yes on Question 2;” the specific statute asking voters in Maryland to authorize the industry.

Will Maryland Vote Yes?

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Maryland legislators didn’t have enough time to provide details about betting legalization. Like their counterparts in Louisiana, they included a simple question in the ballot asking voters to answer “Yes” or “No” in regards to sports betting legalization.

Precisely, voters will answer yes or no on whether they want “to authorize sports and events betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education.” It’s a persuasive question. And given no one is yet to sponsor a bill objecting the question, it’s likely to pass.

What sports will Maryland approve for betting? According to media reports, all the detail about the new bill will be added in January. Of course, that’s if passed. After that, the lawmakers finalize and help launched the first licensed casino in Maryland by July.

Maryland Sportsbooks Already Exist

This might come as a surprise to some but thousands of people in Maryland bet on sports regularly. The wager at two types of sportsbooks: Those based in neighboring states or betting websites located overseas.

According to betting.us, sports betting in Maryland is presently a legal grey area. What that means is that the industry is not officially legal. But at the same time, it’s not allowed. For these reasons, betting at out of state sportsbooks has never been a crime.

All the same, sports betting will officially become legal in November should “Question 2” pass. After that, Maryland could follow New Jersey’s footsteps:

Allowing Almost all Sports

In New Jersey, sportsbooks can provide betting markets for all sports besides NJ College Games. In other words, punters in the Garden State aren’t allowed to wager on basketball, hockey, football or soccer games where NJ colleges are involved.

Of course, Maryland could take a different approach and legalize everything. But that’s unlikely. It’s also not clear whether the state will permit online betting although there are no reasons not to.

The thing is, some states disallow mobile betting to reduce competition with land-based sportsbooks. But Maryland doesn’t have betting shops that would feel threatened by betting websites.

Up to $40M in Tax Revenue

Maryland’s lawmakers estimate that legalizing sport betting will generate up to $40M in tax revenue. It’s roughly the same amount New Jersey collected from the industry in 2019, the first full year since legalizing sports gambling.

As we mentioned, Maryland plans to use money generated from sports betting for education. If successful, this is enough money to make significant improvements to the education system. However, not everyone is convinced the Free State could generate such an amount.

To provide some context, New Jersey’s sportsbooks recorded a betting handle worth $4.5 billion last year. Roughly $3.83B of the money was gambled through the Internet. So, for ML to actualize $40M in taxes, it must legalize mobile betting.

Thousands of New Jobs

New Jersey’s sportsbooks have employed over 20,000 people in their two years of existence. Many of these people never lost their jobs during the pandemic, especially those that work for online casinos.

Managers, odds-makers, marketers, web designed, customer support staff and accountants make up a majority of jobs in the betting industry. Where bookmakers also run casinos, dealers, and game developers also get employment.

That said, Maryland would benefit from added employment sooner or later. COVID-19 rendered thousands of jobs in little America. And with the economy dragging to recover, any industry that can provide jobs should be supported.

Legalizing Online Casinos

In many states where sports betting is allowed, online casinos are also authorized. Will ML follow this direction? On the one hand, Little America allows land-based casinos. As such, it could consider to expand the industry and earn more revenues.

On the other hand, land-based casino owners could oppose any efforts to legalize Internet-based casinos. And as a result, deter the state’s efforts of creating progressive casino laws. Fortunately, there’s hope.

Maryland isn’t legalizing sports betting alone. It also plans to allow gambling on events like TV shows, politics and celebrities. Additionally, some lobbyists are actively encouraging lawmakers to let sportsbooks create mobile apps for their customers.

If sportsbooks get the authorization to provide betting through mobile apps, casinos will also follow suit. That way, you don’t have to visit your favorite brick and mortar establishment. You can play their games at home.

Destroying Black Markets

When Illinois passed a bill to allow sports betting earlier this year, lawmakers called the move “a win against black markets.” And sure enough, many states that now allow gambling have diminishing black markets.

Usually, the only reason gambling black markets exist is to provide odds where they don’t exist. If sports betting is allowed, though, punters tend to bet at safe, licensed companies. With that in mind, Maryland has a reasonably huge gambling black market.

Sire, some people cross borders to bet in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware. But the majority of gamblers use offshore casinos or local, unlicensed bookies.

Protecting Vulnerable Players

One of the most underrated benefits of a legal sports betting industry is that it helps reduce problem gambling. Think about it. Many offshore betting websites are after maximizing profits. And as a result, they don’t always help players with signs of gambling addiction.

Where gambling is regulated, though, there’s a safe system to help vulnerable players. For example, betting sites are required to impose limits. Or they must investigate a player’s source of income. And when there’s proof a punter needs assistance, they’re obliged to provide proper guidance.


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