Maryland House Bill Outlines Sports Betting Rules

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Maryland has taken another step towards legal sports betting as state lawmakers in the House of Delegates are set to consider a new bill. It comes months after state voters said yes to sports betting on the November 2020 ballot.

On Tuesday, Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones filed House Bill 940 that includes both retail and digital sports betting. The proposed measure divides retail properties into two classifications. The Old Line State’s casinos and race tracks have to obtain a Class A license for $250,000, while Class B covers all the rest of the facilities, which have to pay $50,000 for acquiring a license. The bill sets the fee for online sports betting license at $500,000. The license will be valid for five years, with a renewable fee ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

A Sports Wagering Application Review Committee is authorized up to ten mobile sports betting licenses. Though the committee can also award licenses to land-based venues, the bill does specify the number of them. Additionally, HB 940 imposes a 15% tax rate for a digital operator’s first $5 million in revenue, which will increase to 17.5% after reaching this point. For retail sportsbooks, the bill proposes a fixed tax rate of 15%. The proceeds from sports betting will reimburse Maryland’s education fund.

Further Details of the Bill

HB 940 suggests sports betting could be allowed at Camden Yard, the Baltimore Ravens’ football stadium, the Baltimore Orioles’ baseball park, and at M&T Bank Stadium on game days using self-service kiosks or in a retail setting. Also, sports betting would be allowed at Pimlico Race Course on live race days, in addition to Timonium Fairgrounds race tracks and the Laurel Park, provided that they hold horse racing permits. More importantly, online registration is also allowed for bettors besides in-person registration at a sports betting facility. The bettors must be within the state jurisdiction in order to place a legal wager. The minimum age is 21.

Additionally, the bill also proposes a $50,000 registration fee and a new 15% tax for daily fantasy sports operators, renewable each year with the same fee.

How Have We Reached Here?

Maryland lawmakers have been trying to regulate sports betting since PASPA was struck down in 2018. In January 2019, Senate President Thomas Miller asked lawmakers to “find a way to do it without a referendum,” as otherwise, the matter would have delayed until November 2020.

However, state lawmakers could not make it happen, which they admitted later. Eventually, the matter was put to the vote in November last year. Though voters approved sports betting, Miller regretted the loss of the years and the revenue. “Everybody’s got a head start: Las Vegas, New Jersey… it’s very unfortunate.”

Earlier in March 2020, Maryland approved a bill legalizing sports betting and, eight months later, state voters officially nodded to the industry. Now lawmakers just have to formulate a set of rules, such as those mentioned in HB 940. If passed, HB 940 will go to the governor’s table for the executive signatures before it becomes law. Meanwhile, the Senate could still draft its own sports wagering legislation before that.

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