Sports betting is officially legal in Maryland after Governor Larry Hogan signed HB 940 into law on Tuesday. Hogan actually signed over 200 bills this week, but sports betting was one of the most anticipated new rules.
Last November, voters in Maryland overwhelmingly approved a referendum to legalize sports betting in the state. With that in mind, lawmakers spent the early part of 2021 discussing this topic and agreeing on a bill to send to the governor’s desk.
This was an all-inclusive bill, and it will allow a competitive market to be established in the state. Both online and retail sports betting can be offered, and there will be plenty of licenses available for sports betting operators.
Financial projects believe that Maryland could see between $15 and $20 million in annual tax revenue from the new industry. An initial target date of September 1 has been set, as the state would like to have sports betting available by the start of the 2021 NFL season.
House Speaker Adrienne Jones pointed out that this sports betting legislation will allow both women and minorities to play a prominent role in the industry.
Now that Governor Hogan has officially signed the bill into law, the process of launching sports betting will start to ramp up. A Sports Wagering Application Review Commission must first be established as this is the group that will officially issue licenses to both retail and online sportsbooks.
Special consideration will be given to online-only operators that have either women or minorities playing a key role in the business. This commission is expected to be overwhelmed with retail applications, and there is a specific process in place for reviewing and issuing these licenses.
All online license applications will come with a fee of $500,000, but there are different licensing fees associated with the different types of retail licenses.
Retail Coming First
Online sports betting is expected to eventually lead the way in terms of handle and revenue, but it will be retail betting that launches first. The largest casino properties in Maryland will have their applications reviewed first, and they will become the first to offer betting.
This is a strategy that has been taken up by many other states with both forms of sports betting legalized. Gordon Medenica, head of the Maryland Lottery, warned that online options might not be available until early 2022.
Details of Bill
When it comes to retail sports betting licenses, there will be two different types issued. A “Class A” license will be reserved for casino properties, race tracks, and professional sports stadiums in the state.
A “Class B” license is reserved for a handful of specific businesses in the state, but there are also 30 licenses available for other retail properties. Class B licenses are also broken down into sub-categories depending on the size of the business.
Sports betting revenue will be taxed at a rate of 15% for both retail and online operators. This new law also includes language to establish a self-exclusion list for anyone that can affect the outcome of a game or for bettors who want to limit gambling.