Legislative leaders from the Maryland General Assembly are exploring a fast-track scenario for the legalization of MD sports betting. The idea would be to get the process of legal sports betting in Maryland moving forward without needing voter support.
Normally, the Assembly would hold a referendum to seek the support of a majority of voters first. If this plan goes through, however, legal MD sportsbooks may be opening doors without a vote at all. Leaders, alongside casino and racetrack lobbyists, are looking into the option of putting Maryland sports betting regulation in the hands of the state lottery.
Some believe a referendum won’t be necessary in that case. Changes or additions to Maryland State Lottery games are exempt from a 2007 requirement that any new commercial gaming needs to be approved in a general election by a majority vote.
Officials including Gov. Larry Hogan, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch have pushing for the measure, should there be a window. The state’s Lottery and Gaming director Gordon Medenica, on the other hand, has declared the MD Lottery had the understanding a referendum would be needed.
MGM National Harbor and Horseshoe Casino Support MD Sports Betting
MGM National Harbor, Live Casino & Hotel and Horseshoe Casino are the state’s largest casinos.
Unsurprisingly, the owners of these locations are actively involved in lobbying for the legalization of MD sports betting, and sooner rather than later. There are reports of over two dozen lobbyists being sent to Annapolis by Maryland casinos during this legislative session alone.
The measure would allow Maryland casinos to add sports betting venues onto their properties and mimic the Last Vegas-style sportsbook experience. Once MD sports betting moved forward, MGM National Harbor, Horseshoe Casino and Live Casino are all in line to generate healthy amounts of revenue as newly-prosperous legal MD sportsbooks, so makes sense they would be pushing for such action.
Maryland, Parts Of US Are Missing Out On Legal Sports Betting
Lottery director Gordon Medenica knows MD sports betting is already going on just like it is in the many other states where the practice is still illegal.
Medenica says the most money is shelled out around major seasonal sporting events like the Super Bowl and March Madness. According to the American Gaming Association, Americans spend over $4 billion on sports wagers annually, with most of it being illegal. He feels this would be the chance to turn something illegal to legal, similar to how numbers running began turning into legal lotteries several decades ago.
There’s a sense of urgency in the state regarding MD sports betting and the revenues it can potentially produce for the state. MGM National Harbor said in a statement that legalized sports betting in Maryland would curb the illegal sports wagering market.
The hard part about legal sports betting, however, is going through the necessary legislative steps like taxes and licensing fees. Another question that will eventually be on the minds of all parties involved concerns potential partnership deals.
It remains to be seen, but it’s possible that MD sportsbooks and casinos get major players like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook involved in launching retail Maryland sports betting outlets at some point down the road.