Will Online Gaming Come to Maryland?

Throughout the United States, statewide and local laws regulating gaming differ greatly. Some states, like Nevada and New Jersey, have entire cities that revolve around brick-and-mortar casinos. Other states, like nearby Delaware and Pennsylvania, have legalized all forms of online gaming, which has led to a tremendous boost in tax revenue.

However, gaming law varies between federal, state, and local levels. Because there’s no federal regulation for the three forms of online gaming (poker, casino games, and sports betting), a majority of US states are just now penning legislation that will standardize these forms of entertainment.

In 2008, a consensus vote in Maryland legalized land-based gaming, thereby authorizing casinos to conduct business. However, the state’s approach to online gaming may very well take a different direction than the slow progress made with physical casinos.

Currently, residents of Maryland can place wagers on horse and greyhound racing, which may seem strange given there’s not a single horse or greyhound racing track in the state. This means that residents can legally view and bet on races in an online setting alone.

Maryland has also legalized fantasy sports betting, which is a common form of sports betting that punters are involved with throughout the United States. Most states have yet to legalize sports betting for fear of affecting outcomes in sports leagues, which has made fantasy betting an attractive alternative. 

However, a recent amendment proposed by the Maryland State Senate in February asks voters to decide whether they want to vote in the future on issues regarding gaming. While the wording may sound strange, the idea of the amendment is to decide whether or not to expand gaming options in the state.

In the event the amendment is passed, voters would no longer be required to weigh in on expanding and legalizing gaming options. In other words, gaming would be regulated by the state.

At the moment, lawmakers in Maryland are likely looking at nearby states New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania to guide decision-making. In particular, PA online gambling has been the US’s most recent success story when it comes to regulating online gaming sectors. From January to March of 2020, the state collected more than $57 million in the taxation of online casinos.

Success Stories Nearby

States across the country are inspecting the revenue taken in by states that have regulated online gaming, such as Pennsylvania (mentioned above), New Jersey, and Delaware. 

While these states provide strong examples, it’s important to emphasize that between Maryland’s six brick-and-mortar casinos, the projected revenue from these land-based casinos sits at $1.8 billion for 2021. Of this money, $542 million will be allocated for the statewide education trust fund.

However, in the case of Pennsylvania, the $57 million in revenue made during a single fiscal quarter comes from online gaming alone. If Maryland can accrue nearly $2 billion from land-based casinos, then the profits to be made from online sectors should be astronomical in comparison.

For example, as gaming expands around Maryland in the neighboring states of New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, more and more online sites will bleed over to Maryland residents. As online deals become more competitive, there’s likely to be less action at land-based casinos in comparison.

Given Maryland’s regulation for horse and greyhound racing, as well as the state’s fantasy sports betting options, expanding the law to cover online poker and casino games seem to be a matter of time rather than voter opinion. After all, residents have shown their interest in casinos since they opened in 2008.

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