Maryland Aims NFL Season Start to Launch Sports Betting

A last-minute passage for the sports betting bill in Maryland ensured the state is on track to go live by the start of the National Football League (NFL) season.

One Step from Becoming Law

Hours after the Senate approved the amended House Bill 940, the State General Assembly followed suit and approved the bill on the final day of Maryland legislation to send it to Gov. Larry Hogan to be signed into law.

HB940 was amended to put a cap on the number of online mobile betting licenses: the Senate’s unanimous vote of 47-0 limited them to 60, instead of the unlimited number in the original bill, and sent the amended sports bill to the House. The amendment was a necessary trade-off to make licenses attractive for interested operators and as an assurance sports betting would not be offered from every street corner in the state.

Retail Licenses Categories

Besides limiting the number of mobile sports betting licenses to 60, the amendment also set two categories of licenses for retail operators: class A for Maryland’s large casinos, Pimlico and Laurel Park racetracks, the state’s three professional sports teams, larger OTBs, and electronic bingo halls, and class B for bars, restaurants, smaller OTBs, and amusement centers.

The three largest casinos in the state, the three professional sports franchises, and the jockey club would go under a class A-1 license, while class A-2 will feature casinos with less than 1,000 slot machines. Class A-1 license fee would be $2 million to acquire and $500,000 upon renewal, while class A-2 licenses would fetch $1 million upon approval and a further $300,000 to renew.

Class B-1 licenses would be given to organizations with more than 25 employees while B-2 would be for those with less than 25 employees and less than $3 million in gross receipts. Class B-1 license would require a $250,000 license fee and $50,000 renewal fee, while class B-2 license would cost only $50,000 initially and $10,000 in renewal fee.

The sports betting bill sets a flat 15% tax rate on sports betting revenues and provisions for a fund supporting businesses owned by minorities and women in which class A license holders will contribute 5% of their gross gaming receipts.

HB940 was introduced in February by House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, following the 66.2% vote in favor of gambling expansion including sports betting on the Referendum in November which allowed state legislators to amend the constitution and authorize sports betting.

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