Maryland Tries to Kick Off Sports Betting Legalization Process

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Maryland senators have introduced two sports betting bills hoping to push for the timely legalization of the industry in the state.

Two Competing Sports Betting Bills Introduced

Maryland is on its way to become the latest state that supports sports betting, but first, Little America will have to settle on the legislation. Two competing bills have been introduced in the State Senate in a bid to push forward with sports gambling, hopefully ahead of the next Super Bowl in 2021.

Senator Chris West has filed SB 58, which suggests that sports betting permits are granted to video lottery and horse racing operators whereas Craig Zucker’s SB 4 seeks to open the sluicegates for any party that meets the draft’s requirements.

No Shortage of Great Casinos in Maryland

As per SB 58, there are definitely quite a few qualifiable candidates who may yet benefit from the decision. Presently, Maryland has issued video lottery licenses to six casinos, most of which are big national brands, to name:

  • MGM National Harbor
  • The Casino Ocean Downs Racetrack
  • Live Casino & Hotel, Hanover
  • Rocky Gap Casino Resort
  • Horseshoe Baltimore Casino
  • Hollywood Casino Perryville

To make things more interesting on the license-application front, there are a number of race tracks that would qualify under Senator West’s proposal, to name Laurel Park, Timonium Racecourse and Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington.

Plus, there are also Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore as well as Fair Hill Races all of which would be happy with a license to expand on their current operations.

West’s bill seems ambitious in the sense it pushes for an industry that is in an upswing across the U.S. with some 30 states expected to have their operations legalized by the end of 2020, including California.

The Senator’s bill offers a rather paltry account on a number of issues, though, which are of an absolute importance to charting a legal course for sports wagering in Maryland, including:

All of these criteria would need to be thrashed out at some point before the first public hearing of the bill and the governor’s approval. Yet, nothing suggests West’s draft would make it through.

What’s Zucker’s Alternative?

On the other hand, Senator Zucker has a slightly more elaborate piece of legislation that would help Maryland see sports betting through. The senator offers a $2.5 million licensing fee along with $250,000 for renewals.

The senator also wants to introduce mobile betting whereby online sportsbooks can team up with existing land-based venues. However, before any of the bills is voted on, that would require a change in Article XIX of the state’s constitution, similar to many other states in the past two years.

The earliest date for a referendum is November 3, 2020. Should any of the bills clear – and the state enacts changes to its constitution – the State Lottery and Gaming Commission would begin drafting the specific applications regulations.

It would be a tight-schedule to meet between November and February 2021, but Maryland might just make it in time for the Super Bowl.

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