Two senators in Maryland have brought forward a bill that is hoped to bring the arrival of online casino gaming in the state. Nancy King and Ron Watson introduced the SB 267 bill this week at the state Senate and it features provision for there to be a public ballot allowing Maryland citizens to vote on the potential legalization of online casinos in the Old Line State.
If the bill were to pass, it would let the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission grant licensing to local providers to facilitate online casino gaming. The bill would also potentially open up the legal framework required to allow some of the new online casinos featured at resources such as captaingambling.com to set up shop in Maryland.
All of this is dependent on the bill passing in a referendum that would ask voters in Maryland to answer the question, ‘Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize Internet gaming for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education.’
Further details of what the bill could involve are still vague with no specific mention of whether the provision would include online poker, or whether it would be kept to online slots and table games like roulette and blackjack.
What the passing of legal online casino gaming could mean for Maryland
While there will be many opponents to the SB 267 bill, most would agree that such a measure could have considerable economic benefits to the state. This is because each licensed operator would have to pay $500,000 to get an initial license and these licenses would be up for renewal every five years. The renewal process would also include a fee of 1% of the operators’ average annual proceeds from their first five years of operating in Maryland.
This would be doubled up with a set tax rate of 15% for each of the licensed operators and these tax revenues would then be paid into the Maryland Education Trust Fund. This fund already receives significant contributions from the state’s six physical casinos, but their online counterparts could potentially bring in much more tax revenues.
This is because the arrival of mobile sports betting in Maryland has already proven to be a major success. Online sportsbooks only went live in the state on November 23, 2022 but they already managed to bring in $487.2 million in revenues in December alone.
It took two years for online sports betting to become a reality after Maryland voters approved the measures in November 2020. Much of this delay was due to the slow legal proceedings that went into deciding which providers would receive one of the limited number of licenses.
As a result, it could still be many years until online casino gaming becomes a reality even if the iGaming bill was passed in a referendum. However, the fact that an online casino gaming bill has even made it this far will be warmly greeted by those in the industry.
Maryland has lagged behind other nearby states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey in how it has introduced legal online gambling, and such states are already feeling the financial benefits of such a motion.
As such, all eyes will be on the 2024 election to see whether Maryland voters will approve legal online casino gaming in the state. With the state’s physical casinos suffering from dwindling revenues, it seems that more and more people are wanting to play in the online domain. As such, the introduction of the SB 267 bill couldn’t be better timed.