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What you need to know about Maryland and sports betting

  • Prince George's County,Anne Arundel County
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Annapolis, MD - There is a lot of attention on sports betting across the country. From Chris Christie backing the legalization of sports betting in New Jersey to the PGA tour throwing their support behind legalized and regulated sports gambling, there is no shortage of attention around this controversial topic.

For the longest time, sports betting has carried a stigma that has seen players and sports books ostracized. However, many people and legislators are beginning to change their stance on sports betting, in part, because of the popularity of Daily Fantasy Sports platforms. The growing belief is that increased regulation can ensure the integrity of the games and protection for consumers. 

What is the Maryland Sports Betting Bill?

The Maryland bill for sports betting, House Bill 989, was created to legalize sports betting in Maryland if the federal law preventing sports betting,Professional and Amateur Sports Act, was repealed via the ongoing New Jersey sports betting case.

The goal of HB 989 was to create a committee to assess the impact and effect of sports betting within Maryland. It would also give State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission control of the program and would allow racetracks and operating casinos to complete an application for a sports gaming license.

The entire bill was contingent on the result of the federal PASPA that is currently being appealed to the US Supreme Court. The hope was that sports betting would be legalized in Maryland should New Jersey win its case to legalize sports betting.

Maryland and Sports Betting

Maryland legislature closed Monday, April 9 without sending a bill to legalize sports betting via a referendum to the governor. However, a bill on Daily Fantasy Sports did pass.

The sports betting bill was approved by Maryland's House in March with a vote of 124-14. Maryland was the second state this year to pass such a bill. However, because the bill did not pass Maryland legislature this week, the hope for the short-term legalization of sports betting in Maryland is lost.

The only hope left this year would be a hearing on HB 1014 – otherwise, it won’t be heard until January 2019.

Federal Sports Betting

A lot is riding on the New Jersey sports betting case that is currently being appealed to the US Supreme Court. A decision is expected this spring, and Christie seems confident that they’ll win the appeal in May or June.

If the US Supreme Court decides to repeal the ban on sports betting outside of Nevada, it will allow states to legalize and regulate it. Many of Maryland’s surrounding states have already passed a bill to legalize sports betting if it is repealed, and other states like Michigan, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Hawaii are also looking at legislation around safeguarding and protecting sports betting.  

While many states are embracing the momentum of sports betting, other states, like Kansas, are taking their time.

Maryland’s inability to get the HB 989 passed this week proves that there are still challenges to the legalization of sports betting. However, there is still a lot of optimism that sports betting could be legalized in Maryland as early as 2020, should New Jersey win their case with the US Supreme Court.

With Caesars Entertainment stating that “Over $100 billion annually is wagered illegally on sports in the U.S.,” many states, including Maryland, could start looking at the opportunities of regulated sports betting and not just the risks.

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