Maryland Senate committee advances plan for legal sports gambling

Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun
·2 min read

The Maryland Senate is advancing a broad plan to allow legalized gambling on sports at a variety of in-person locations and on mobile apps.

The Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to advance the plan to the Senate for discussion beginning Thursday.

The legislation the Senate is considering would create different types of licenses for in-person betting and online betting, but effectively would allow an unlimited number of licenses. Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course and the stadiums for the Orioles, Ravens and the Washington Football Team could offer daily betting under the Senate plan.

That’s significantly different from a plan passed by the House of Delegates. It would cap the number of licenses — including the sought-after licenses for online and mobile betting — and limit Pimlico and the baseball and football sites to offering betting only on race days, game days and during large special events.

Sen. Guy Guzzone, a Howard County Democrat who chairs the budget committee, has said that by essentially allowing licenses to be issued to any business that meets minimum qualifications, the new industry could get up and running soon — perhaps in time for this fall’s NFL season.

The bill would be an emergency measure, so the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission and a to-be-established commission that would review applications for sports wagering could get to work quickly.

With just a few days before Monday’s planned end of the legislative session, lawmakers will face pressure to ultimately pick one plan or the other — or reach a compromise.

Since a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision enabled all states to legalize sports gambling, most of Maryland’s neighbors have moved forward. So, there’s an urgency among some lawmakers not to be left further behind.

Both legislative plans would tax the proceeds from sports betting in Maryland, with most of the money dedicated to public schools. The Senate version also would send $3 million to historically Black universities to set up workforce training programs in the industry.

The Senate’s plan would charge heftier application and license renewal fees for the state’s casinos, stadiums and larger companies than for the smaller licensees.

Maryland voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing betting on sports during last fall’s general election, but the details were left to state lawmakers to figure out.