Maryland can be considered a regional gambling hotspot, especially when it comes to horse racing and tournament poker.
The first races at the Pimlico Race Course were held in the 1740s, and the industry was allowed to operate with no dedicated regulations until 1870. Charitable bingo was legalized in 1952, and in 1973 Maryland residents voted in favor of establishing a state lottery.
Atlantic City-style brick and mortar casinos were approved in 2008, following a statewide referendum. Six venues were built between 2010 and 2016.
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Maryland Gambling Law Summary
Maryland defines gambling as “wagering or betting in any manner to receive something of value dependent upon the result of any race, contest, or contingency.” This definition is broad enough to cover internet games. Even worse, the description of a gambling device is also extensive and may arguably be applied to any computer or mobile device used to play real money games over the internet.
At one time, the punishment for engaging in illegal gambling as a player was quite severe, as getting convicted on the associated misdemeanor charge carried a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail and a hefty fine. In April 2019, Maryland lawmakers updated the regulations – under the new rules, anyone caught placing an unlawful bet could be subjected to a $500-$1,000 citation, depending on the amount of money on the line.
Most gambling-related matters are covered by the Maryland Code, Criminal Law, Title 12, Subtitle 1, Section 1-102 et seq. and Maryland Business Regulations, Title 11, Subtitle 1, Section 11-101 et seq.; Business Regulations, Title 10, Subtitle 5, Section 10-502. The minimum gambling age is 18 for bingo, lottery games, and pari-mutuel betting and 21 for casino-style games.
|Land-Based Gambling||Yes||Casinos and race tracks|
|Online Gambling||Yes||Daily fantasy sports and horse race betting only|
|Charitable Gaming||Yes||Bingo only|
|Minimum Gambling Age||18 for pari-mutuel, bingo, and lottery games; 21 for casinos|
Online Gambling in Maryland
Section 12 of the Maryland code states that betting, wagering or gambling without a license is illegal within the borders of the state. Unlike the other states, Maryland doesn’t have separate punishments for players and operators. However, the local regulations don’t refer specifically to online gambling and the state has never tried going after people who engage in real money gaming on offshore sites. Since most of those sites accept Maryland residents, many people believe that online play isn’t prohibited by the current regulations. Nevertheless, if you have any doubts about signing up for a specific site, we recommend contacting a local lawyer first as the penalties for breaking the law are rather harsh.
Maryland casinos operate under the oversight of the Maryland Lottery. The venues are located in Hanover (Maryland Live!), Oxon Hill (MGM National Harbor), Baltimore (Horseshoe Casino Baltimore), Perryville (Hollywood Casino Perryville), Berlin (Ocean Downs), and Flintstone (Rocky Gap Casino Resort). All Maryland casinos are allowed to offer slots and traditional table games, such as roulette and blackjack. Also, charity organizations in select counties are permitted to host casino nights and card game nights.
Online gambling is illegal in Maryland, but local businesses are allowed to operate social gaming sites. One example of such a site is Live! Social Casino, which is operated by Maryland Live! and which allows local gambling enthusiasts to play free slots, table games, and tournaments. Just like MyVegas, Live! has a special loyalty program for its most dedicated players.
Four out of six Maryland casinos operate their own poker rooms. These casinos are Maryland Live! (52 tables), MGM National Harbor (39 tables), Horseshoe Casino Baltimore (25 tables), and Hollywood Casino Perryville (8 tables). Most of the action revolves around No-Limit Hold ’em, but there is a lot of variety when it comes to tournament play. Also, Maryland Live! is an annual stop on the World Poker Tour. The Old Line State does not have a regulated internet poker market. Playing on offshore sites is illegal. Home poker games were legalized in 2016.
Maryland Sports Betting
Maryland is an important thoroughbred horse racing hotspot and is home to one of the most famous racetracks in the country, the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The Baltimore facility operates its own racebook, as do three other Maryland racetracks: the Rosecroft Raceway (Fort Washington), Laurel Park (Laurel), and the Timonium Race Track (Lutherville-Timonium). Off-track betting is available exclusively over the internet via TwinSpires and XpressBet. Greyhound races are illegal.
Maryland lawmakers are currently working on a sports betting bill, which was introduced by Del. Jason Buckel and Del. Kevin Hornberger. The new legislation would authorize Maryland Lottery to conduct sports betting via horse racing licensees and VLT operators. However, legal experts have indicated that the issue might need to appear on the ballot for a referendum vote before it could take effect.
Maryland Daily Fantasy Sports
Maryland was the first state to regulate paid DFS contests. The relevant bill was passed in 2012, but it took five years for the State Comptroller to implement clear regulations. As it stands, DFS operators are authorized to offer their services to Maryland residents with no registration or individual licensing fees. However, they are required to enforce a maximum deposit limit of $1,000 and are not allowed to offer any college sports contests.
In February 2016, Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. introduced a bill designed to ban all paid-entry DFS companies from the state, but his proposal was never put to a vote.
Maryland Lottery offers interstate draw games, such as Pick 3/Pick 4, as well as multi-state games, such as Mega Millions and Powerball. The lottery also offers keno and scratchers, as well as Racetrax, which can best be described as simulated horse racing with a keno-like payout structure. Lottery tickets cannot be purchased online, but with 4,400 retailers located across the entire state, all Maryland residents can enjoy easy access to Maryland Lottery’s products and services.
The largest live bingo halls are located in Baltimore (Bingo World), Mechanicsville (ADF Bingo) Boring (The Mason Dixon Bingo Hall), Owings (Optimists Club Bingo), and Solomons (Island Bingo). In addition, residents of Anne Arundel and Calvert can play bingo using electronic instant bingo machines.
Regulated online bingo is not available in Maryland. Playing on offshore sites is illegal even under the new regulations.
Maryland Online Gambling FAQ
What types of gambling are available in Maryland?
Maryland has commercial casinos, pari-mutuel betting, charitable gambling, and a state-controlled lottery. The local gambling industry is currently undergoing a rather rapid expansion, which started in November 2012 with a vote on less restrictive gambling laws and which resulted in the launch of Caesar’s Entertainment’s Horseshoe Casino Baltimore in 2014. The state of Maryland hasn’t regulated online gambling yet, but many experts believe that the state is planning to launch its own iGaming market over the next few years.
What laws cover online gambling in Maryland?
Land-based gambling is covered extensively in Section 12 of the Maryland code. Online gambling, on the other hand, isn’t really regulated, so most people believe that there’s nothing to stop Maryland residents from enjoying their hobby on one of the quality offshore sites. However, we recommend seeking professional legal advice if you have any doubts about joining a specific site.
Is real money online gambling legal in Maryland?
The Maryland law doesn’t list online gambling as an offense. Consequently, some industry experts claim that playing online is both legal and safe. Nevertheless, if you have any doubts about joining a specific site, you should consider consulting a lawyer first just to stay on the safe side.
Which offshore gambling sites accept Maryland residents?
Many high-traffic offshore sites have absolutely no qualms about accepting Maryland residents, but there are some exceptions to this rule. Generally speaking, if you live in Maryland, you should be able to access some of the best casino, poker, and sports betting offers available on the web by joining one of the Bovada sites.
What are the most popular banking options supported by Maryland -facing sites?
Offshore sites don’t support all that many banking options, so most people decide to stick with basic credit card or debit card payments for deposits and wire transfer for payouts.
Does Maryland offer any intrastate online gambling?
No. If one of the sites you visit is pretending to be licensed in Maryland, you’re most probably dealing with a fraud attempt.
Is it likely for Maryland to regulate online gambling?
The local lawmakers are introduced in allowing Maryland-licensed iGaming sites to operate on the local market, but changing the current regulations is going to take some time.