A new plan for sports betting is moving forward in the General Assembly that would open the new industry to an unlimited number of in-person and online businesses.
The plan being put forth by the state Senate would be one that is wide-open to applicants, compared to one approved by the House of Delegates that would limit the number of licenses.
“We are doing our best not to pick winners and losers, but to let the market work itself out,” said Sen. Craig Zucker, a Montgomery County Democrat who is one of the architects of the new plan.
The Senate’s plan would create types of licenses for in-person betting and online betting, but effectively would allow an unlimited number of licenses. The House would cap the number, notably the sought-after licenses for online and mobile betting.
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. Under the House plan, those facilities could only take bets on race days, game days and during large special events.
Officials representing the Maryland Jockey Club and the sports teams didn’t respond Tuesday to requests for comment. But they’ve lobbied lawmakers for daily betting operations.
Michael Frenz, the Maryland Stadium Authority’s executive director, said Tuesday that since the Orioles and the NFL teams playing the games, they shouldn’t be limited to betting only on certain days. The authority is the landlord for the Orioles and Ravens at the Camden Yards complex in Baltimore.
“Our preference would be for the teams to also have digital gaming and also non-game day gaming,” Frenz said.
“An amenity such as that would help promote mixed-use development on the [stadium] complex, which we would like to see,” Frenz said.
The Senate’s plan is pending in the Budget and Taxation Committee, which took a show-of-hands vote that showed initial support for it. The committee needs to write up the changes, so a vote won’t happen until Wednesday afternoon at the earliest, said Sen. Guy Guzzone, a Howard County Democrat who chairs the panel.
If the revised plan clears the Senate, it would go back to the House for consideration. The House could agree to the changes, stand behind its plan or work out the differences in a conference committee.
Del. Anne Kaiser, a Montgomery County Democrat who chairs the House committee that handles gambling, said she hadn’t yet reviewed the Senate’s proposal.
The Senate plan would create five license types:
Class A1 would be for licenses at larger casinos, thoroughbred race tracks and the Orioles, Ravens and Washington Football Team stadiums. A license holder would pay a $2 million fee, with a $500,000 renewal for five years. These casinos are MGM National Harbor near Washington, Live! Casino and Hotel in Hanover, and Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino.
Class A2 would be for casinos with fewer than 1,000 slot machines. They’d pay a $1 million fee, plus a $300,000 renewal fee for five years. These casinos are the Hollywood Casino in Cecil County, Ocean Downs Casino on the Eastern Shore and Rocky Gap Casino in Western Maryland.
Class B1 would cover most other in-person licenses. Those businesses would pay a $250,000 fee and a $50,000 renewal for five years.
Class B2 is for on-site betting at business with fewer than 25 employees and $3 million in sales. They’d pay a $50,000 fee and a $10,000 renewal fee for five years.
Mobile licenses would be available to qualifying businesses. Each would pay a $500,000 fee, then a $100,000 five-year renewal fee.
The mobile licenses would be separate from the in-person licenses. Companies could apply for one type of license or the other, or both.
The Class B1 and B2 licensees would pay a tax of 13% of their revenues to the state, while the other licensees would pay 15%.
Guzzone said the plan attempts to take a free-market approach by letting pretty much any business try to get into the industry.
“This is a regulated business ... but it’s probably the closest to free market that you can get,” he said.
The House-backed plan would set a limit of 15 online licenses. It would assign in-person licenses to casinos, racetracks, the stadiums and a “riverboat” facility on the Potomac River. It would create 10 other in-person licenses open to bidding.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Barker contributed to this article.