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Maryland legal sports betting expected in early 2022 following hearing of Bill HB940 in House

Maryland took some major steps towards legal sports betting last week when Bill HB940 was heard in the House for the first time. The bill, which was sponsored by House Speaker Adrienne Jones, came as a result of a ballot referendum in November 2020 and outlines the steps for legal sports betting in Maryland.

There was a favorable reaction to the bill in a 3-hour debate in the House, which saw proposals for more sports betting licenses put forward. Initial plans were for 10 sports betting licenses for digital brands but this looks like being expanded to 20, which is great news for Maryland residents.

Different approaches to betting licenses and ‘skins’ have been adopted in different states and it is one of the most important factors for end users. An increase in licenses ultimately means an increase in apps, which is more freedom of choice for a user. This results in a better experience as competition breeds innovation and customer service.

It is also vital for increasing revenues to the state and this was what was brought up in the House. Maryland will use much of the tax revenues from sports betting to fund education and there will be a direct correlation in the number of license and the increase in the education budget.

After Adrienne Jones gave an overview of the bill and any potential changes, Delegate Eric Ebersole reviewed key points and summarized as below:

  • Allow eight “Class A” physical sportsbook licenses to the state’s six casinos and certain racetracks.
  • Allow “Class B” licenses for five more “competitively bid physical locations” at least 10 miles from the Class A locations.
  • Make 10 mobiles licenses available to operators that do not necessarily have to be tethered to the physical locations.
  • Impose a tax of 15% for the first $5 million gross gaming revenue and 17.5% for anything beyond that, all of it benefiting the state’s Blueprint Fund.
  • Set the following fees: Class A applications, $250,000 and annual fees of $50,000,  and after five years, renewal fee of 1% GGR for previous five years; Class B  applications $50,000 and annual fees, and after renewal fee of 1% GGR for previous five years;
  • Set the fee for mobile-only licenses at $500,000 (application) and $100,000 (annual renewal).
  • Create a licensure review commission to review all applications.

It looks like the framework for legal Maryland sports betting is now taking shape and once the proposed amendments are drawn up there is likely to be real momentum behind its implementation. As of now no dates have been set for a second hearing and nothing has been passed to Governor Larry Hogan. However, it has been suggested that this will happen sooner rather than later and reports that sportsbook could start accepting bets in Maryland in Q1 of 2022 don’t seem way off the mark.

Jake Pollard

Jake Pollard is an experienced journalist and editor who has covered the online gaming and betting industry for many years. He has written for the leading media outlets as well as operators and suppliers in the igaming space. His current areas of focus are wide-ranging and include regulatory developments in the US, emerging markets in South America and how European countries are adapting to a decade of igaming regulation.

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