Maryland has been discussing the possibility of legalizing sports betting since 2018, but the state has yet to make any real progress. Earlier this year, it appeared that lawmakers planned to legalize the industry, but the legislature instead turned their attention elsewhere.
There is still a belief that Maryland is hoping to legalize sports betting sooner rather than later, and lawmakers will discuss the issue again in November.
In 2018, Maryland passed House Bill 989, which created a task force to explore the benefits of legalizing sports betting. Lawmakers were pleased with the results, and they introduced another bill this year.
Senate Bill 58, which would legalize sports betting, is currently on the Senate floor but has yet to be officially voted on. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the bill’s discussion, and it appears that lawmakers are content to wait until November.
Lawmakers in Maryland were attempting to put the Maryland Lottery in charge of the sports betting industry, which would have allowed the industry to launch without needing to amend the state constitution.
Will the Voters Have a Say?
Since the lawmakers were unable to put the Maryland Lottery in charge, Maryland voters will ultimately decide the future of sports betting. The Maryland Constitution requires voter approval before making any amendments to gambling laws.
However, the question now is whether Maryland will vote on a sports betting bill in November or not. If lawmakers cannot get a bill passed before the November elections, the question will not appear on the ballot.
Industry experts believe voters in Maryland support sports betting legislation, but they might not even get a chance to express their beliefs if the lawmakers continue to stall.
Launch Could Be Months Out
Even if a sports betting referendum is placed on the ballot this November and passed by voters, sports betting could still be months away. Lawmakers were unable to discuss any details in depth relating to the sports betting industry, and those discussions would have to take place at some point in 2021.
Maryland will likely look to other states for guidance when creating rules and regulations to guide the sports betting industry. However, decisions about legislative oversight could turn into another heated debate.
At the same time, Maryland faces a budget shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic and needs to generate additional revenue. Legalizing sports betting to open additional revenue channels seems like a no-brainer at face value.
A Look at Maryland Betting Rules/Regulations
Maryland will likely require bettors to be 21 years of age or older to participate, consistent with most of the industry in the United States. Both retail and mobile sports betting are expected to be legalized, although there has not yet been an official announcement.
One of the most controversial discussions centers around whether Maryland should allow betting on collegiate sporting events or not. Most states have opted to allow betting on both professional and collegiate events, despite some pressure from the NCAA.
If Maryland voters pass the sports betting referendum, the state legislature would still have the power to vote on such decisions.