March 19, 2024 3 min read


Maryland Advances Toward Legalized iGaming With House Approval

HB1319 faces a ponderous legal journey, but Maryland lawmakers are convinced online gambling could be the key to solving the state’s funding shortage

Maryland has taken a significant stride towards legalizing online casinos as the House voted to pass House Bill 1319 (HB1319) on Saturday. The bill, introduced by Rep. Vanessa Atterbeary, cleared the House with a decisive vote of 92-43 during a special session just two days before the legislative deadline for House bills to advance to the Senate.

A Regulated Industry Could Bring Substantial Benefits

HB1319 now moves to the Maryland Senate, where it faces an 8 April deadline for passing constitutional amendments to be included on the November ballot. The bill’s journey through the Senate may prove challenging, as some senators, including Sen. Ron Watson, have expressed reservations about introducing new revenue streams, preferring to develop a balanced budget that does not rely on additional taxes.

Atterbeary defended HB1319, noting that regulated iGaming would benefit Maryland with more than just increased revenues. She drew attention to the prevalence of illegal online gambling in the Old Line State, estimated at around $200 million annually, which lacks adequate consumer protections. Atterbeary noted that a regulated sector could adequately combat gambling harm and ensure a safe and sustainable gaming environment.

Problem gamblers are going to find a way to gamble. It is our job to create the appropriate protections, increase support and funding for treatments for those individuals.

Maryland Rep. Vanessa Atterbeary

While HB1319 addresses many of Maryland’s ongoing issues, some Senators were concerned about iGaming’s potential long-term effects. Some contentious topics include potential job losses in the brick-and-mortar sector, unstable revenues, and a rise in addiction rates. Industry stakeholders like The Cordish Companies have also spoken out against the bill, highlighting the danger to established businesses.

The Bill Underwent Significant Changes

During the recent session, there was minimal discussion about the bill’s core text, with amendments receiving the primary focus. Recent amendments to HB1319 address various concerns raised during the legislative process. A newly envisioned Video Lottery Employee Displacement Fund aims to address fears of job losses at land-based casinos due to the introduction of online gambling.

Other recent updates to the bill include increasing the number of iCasino licenses from 12 to 30, allocating a portion of iGaming revenue to social equity, and banning the use of credit cards for online casino gaming. However, Saturday’s session rejected some proposed amendments like requirements for in-person deposits and identity verification and limitations on wager amounts and total bets.

Advocates of HB1319 view legalized iGaming revenue as a potential funding source for the state. The bill’s fate in the Senate will ultimately determine whether Marylanders will get to vote on the legalization of internet casinos and poker in the upcoming November election. Success will reshape the state’s gambling sector, aligning with neighboring states like Pennsylvania.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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