In recent years, several states across the US have found themselves legalizing sports betting within their jurisdictions. This has come about as a result of the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA for short. This federal law, which was struck down in 2018 by the Supreme Court, has paved the way for individual states to make up their own minds about whether or not sports betting should take place.

The state of Maryland, however, has not yet made that leap. At present, the state does not permit people to bet inside of its borders – although that could be about to change. How would the potential legalization of sports betting next year affect the state? This article will delve further into the issue to find out.

The current situation

First off, however, it is worth investigating what the current situation in the state looks like. The legislation has passed through the state’s Congress, and the governor has also approved it. Next, it will be put before voters in November, where they have a right to veto the move. The question will be posed to voters in a very particular way and will attempt to tie some of the proceeds from the legalization of sports gambling to funding for education – a move that is likely to increase the chances of it passing.

In reality, legalizing sports betting in Maryland would not be a cataclysmic or even unusual move. The reason for this is simple: across the US, many other states have done the same thing – and if Maryland were to do this too, then it would simply be moving in the same direction as many of the states both around it (such as betting hotspots like New Jersey and others such as West Virginia) and across the nation.

And given that other forms of gambling are already popular in the state, there is clearly both a market for and a tolerance of gambling as it stands. There are, for example, more than five for-profit casinos in the state. This suggests that there is unlikely to be a widespread backlash to the legalization of sports betting and that the legislation is likely to pass.

Stadium environments

One potential change for Maryland sports fans post-legalization could lie in how their stadiums are designed and how they operate. Other states that have recently legalized sports betting such as Pennsylvania have seen their major stadiums be somewhat transformed by the arrival of outlets and stalls, which permit sports betting to take place on-site. The Prudential Centre in Newark, for example, is the stadium of the New Jersey Devils ice hockey team – and in 2018 it opened a brand-new William Hill sports betting lounge. Sports betting, then, could really begin to transform the experience of fans heading to games in person once the coronavirus pandemic is over.

Are there concerns?

Finally, it’s worth exploring whether or not there are any potential pitfalls to the potential legalization of sports betting in Maryland. According to some opponents of legalized sports betting, the phenomenon has the potential to change the character of games. Lucrative sponsorship deals, for example, are sometimes seen as negative because they involve potential compromises when it comes to data, television streaming, and more. And PASPA was, after all, originally passed to prevent players from being bribed or attempting to rig the outcome of a game for financial gain.

But will legalizing sports betting in Maryland affect it in particular? Maryland’s major sports teams, which are likely to be the ones whose outcomes are bet on, compete in regional or national leagues – where the sports betting scene is already bedded in. The Washington Redskins, for example, play in the NFC East against teams like New York Giants in the state of New Jersey, which already has liberal gambling laws. The idea that Maryland will be uniquely affected by legalized sports betting, then, is probably untrue.

Ultimately, sports betting is likely to have some specific ramifications for the state of Maryland. It will, for example, hold the potential to alter how sporting environments such as stadia operate. But while some of the original proponents of PASPA may have disagreed, the move is unlikely to radically change Maryland at all. In an age in which online sports betting is becoming more and more ubiquitous, the legalization of sports betting in Maryland is not likely to cause waves.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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