Maryland lawmakers file two sports betting bills

Lawmakers in Maryland have filed two competing sports betting bills.

Two competing bills that would legalize sports betting have been introduced in the Maryland state senate

One of the bills, SB 58, was introduced by Senator Chris West while the other bill, SB 4, was introduced by Senator Craig Zucker.

What’s covered in the bills?

The provisions outlined in SB 58 would only allow sports wagering licenses to be issued to video lottery or thoroughbred and harness horse racing licensees.

Currently, six casinos in Maryland hold a video lottery license. These casinos include MGM National Harbor, Love Casino & Hotel in Hanover, Rocky Gap Casino Resort, Hollywood Casino Perryville, Horseshoe Baltimore Casino and The Casino at Ocean Downs Racetrack.

Under SB 58, five racetracks in the state would be able to apply for a sports betting license. These racetracks are Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore, Laurel Park, Timonium Racecourse, Rosecroft raceway in Fort Washington and Fair Hill Races in Elkton.

SB 58 does not mention a licensing fee, tax rate or online wagering, but does specify that state revenue from betting will be put towards “dedicated purposes including the funding of public education.”

Alternatively, SB 4 would create an open application process for sports betting licenses, providing more operators with an opportunity to offer sports betting in the state. This bill also sets a $2.5m licensing fee along with a $250,000 annual renewal fee.

Zucker’s bill would also allow online operators to offer sports betting on behalf of existing sports betting licensees as long as they pay a licensing fee of $5,000.

Both SB 4 and SB 58 would charge the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission would regulate sports betting operations. On top of this, both bills require an amendment to Article XIX of the Maryland constitution, meaning that they can only become law if a referendum to enact them is passed after making it through the legislature and receiving the governor’s approval.

If either bill is approved, the referendum would be held on 3 November 2020.

Last year’s attempt to legalize sports betting

In February 2019, two lawmakers introduced HB 1132, which would have allowed the State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency to conduct sports betting operations.

Last year’s bill did not require a referendum to come into law but ultimately failed to receive a vote in the legislature.

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