The push to legalize online casinos in Maryland fails

Hopes that online casinos would be legalized in Maryland this year were dashed after the issue was a non-issue at the final legislative session of the year on Monday, April 8.

There was some hope in the Old Line State that online casinos would be legalized when the House of Representatives passed an amended bill on March 16, sending it to the Senate.

House Bill 1319 passed by a vote of 92-43 in March but was always facing tough scrutiny in the Senate following a series of amendments initiated by its sponsor, Rep. Vanessa Atterbeary.

The changes included a ban on using credit cards to fund accounts, a provision not included in the state’s current sports betting laws.

The number of licensees might have more than doubled from 12 to as many as 30, with a license costing $1 million for five years and renewal fees of about 1% of each licensee’s average annual profit in the three years prior Extension will apply.

The amended bill also included a proposed tax rate of 55% for online slots and table games, while live dealer games would be taxed at a minimum of 20%.

However, despite this late approval in the House of Representatives, the bill to legalize online casinos was not on the General Assembly’s legislative agenda for its final session of the calendar year on Monday.

Even if the Senate had passed the bill, it would still have required approval from Maryland voters because the referendum issue is up for debate in November’s presidential election.

With the bill now missing the 2024 deadline, the next opportunity to put the question before voters may not come until Maryland’s next general election for governor, scheduled to take place by November 3, 2026.

The pace of online casino regulation is stagnating in the US, with only seven states offering this vertical.

Currently, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, West Virginia and Rhode Island are the only markets that have regulated the sector.

Rhode Island became the latest state to offer regulated i-gaming after launching in March with Bally’s as an effective monopoly operator.

In New York, Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr.’s igaming bill SB S4856, filed in January, stalled after gambling legalization was not included in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 2025 executive budget.

Because of that oversight, the senator said at a conference in New York in March that iGaming regulation in the state would become a necessity for lawmakers to fill budget gaps resulting from the pandemic.

The legalization of online casinos in the Empire State was met with strong opposition. Unions argued that legalizing the industry would “harm” brick-and-mortar workers and benefit only a select few operators.

In response, Senator Addabbo said SB S4856 provides a $25 million fund to protect land-based venues, adding that this issue can only be moved forward if all parties are willing to discuss and negotiate.

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