Gambling Laws in Maryland have been swinging to-and-fro between legalization-and-prohibition since the early 1700’s. Licensed lotteries were legal for many years until tainted with the-brush-of-corruption and banned. Slot machines helped Maryland develop the reputation of a ‘mini-Vegas’ in the 1950’s until prohibition won-out again. The current resurgence of land-based casinos in Maryland is led by a state government seeking to compete with its neighboring mid-Atlantic States (New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania) for gambling revenue, as evidenced by the recent taste for change in legalizing sports betting (both land-based and online).

Maryland Casino Gambling

In the 1940s, counties in Maryland were given the option to legally operate slots machines if they wished. A small section of Maryland on the Potomac exercised the option and until 1963, (when slots were banned again) became known as ‘Little Vegas’.

Land-based casinos were deemed illegal then until 2012, when Maryland’s voters re-legalized casinos and in 2013, 5 land-based casinos opened their doors in Maryland. An additional sixth casino (a horse racing track) was also given the green light as a legal casino with the addition of casino gambling games.

Maryland’s land-based casinos, (administered by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency) operate almost 13 000 slots and gaming machines, and oversee nearly 500 casino table games. Since the opening of the casinos in 2013, gambling funds leaving the state of Maryland for neighboring states have diminished, and much-needed tax revenue is now staying in Maryland instead of lining the state coffers of Delaware and New Jersey.

Online Casinos in Maryland

Online gambling in Maryland is limited to horse and greyhound racing and DFS. Accordingly, for the time being, gambling online at online casinos is implicitly illegal in Maryland.

Until Maryland’s State Legislature passes online casino legalization legislation, all potential online players in Maryland should avoid playing both off-shore and U.S. based online casinos and not risk criminal charges.

State Legislators in Maryland are actively monitoring nearby states, in particular, the online casinos in NJ, where online gambling is legal as they consider a four-point-plan of;

  • enhancing the state’s revenues,
  • catering to low budget players,
  • adhering to precedents in other states and;
  • ensuring players security.

Poker in Maryland

Live Poker was illegal in Maryland, even at licensed casinos until the outcome of the November 2012 referendum legalized table games at the state’s casinos.

Home poker games became legal in Maryland in 2016 when the State Legislature signed off on HB 127, legalizing private home poker and card games under certain conditions;

  • No games involving more than $1000 stakes during any 24-hour period.
  • The game is not held more than once a week
  • Advertised to the public is not allowed; and
  • Organizers cannot profit off the game, only players.

Poker Rooms

Poker is open and available at all of Maryland’s five land-based casinos, with more than a total of 125 tables available across the state. 7 Card Stud, Texas Hold’em, and No Limit Hold’em are the most popular Poker games at Maryland’s casinos.

Online Poker Laws

Online Poker is a still unavailable for online players currently in Maryland, however, the online poker topic has not been ruled by the state’s legislators as untenable. Part of the answer lies in how the state’s casinos approach online gambling with their future solutions to the potential online sports betting uptake in Maryland.

  • Legal Gambling in Maryland contributes hundreds of millions of dollars annually to state programs.
  • Gambling revenue has assisted with more than $2.1 billion raised for the Maryland Education Trust Fund, which supports Kindergarten through Year 12 public education programs, public school and higher-education construction and capital improvements including community colleges.
  • Gambling revenue also supports local impact grants, Maryland’s horse racing industry and a range of minority, small and women-owned businesses across the state.
  • Gambling increases economic growth as a whole in Maryland and the industry supplies more than 3000 direct jobs (paying well above the minimum wage) and creates hundreds more jobs indirectly in associated service industries like restaurants, bars, taxis and entertainment to Marylanders.

History of Online & Land-Based Gambling in Maryland

1743; Maryland Jockey Club founded.

1791; First legalized gambling took place in Maryland through church lotteries, leading to a boom in lotteries. Many thousands were operating at one point.

1834; Lotteries prohibited. A legal lottery would not be offered again in Maryland for almost another 140 years.

1920; Horse Racing board formed to oversee legal betting on horse racing in Maryland.

1943-49; Slot machines legalized in several counties in Maryland.

1963; Slot machines prohibited.

1973; Maryland State Lottery created.

2012; State referendum passes legalizing casino table games and 6 casinos now operate in Maryland as a result.

2012; DFS legalized in Maryland under Section 12-114 of the Maryland State Code

2016; Bill HB 127, legalizing private home poker and card games under certain conditions passed into law by Maryland State Governor Larry Hogan.

2020; Sports Betting & Online Gambling legalized after debate in the Maryland State Legislature and resulting state referendum. Awaiting launch.

Visit our Maryland online Sports Betting page for more information on the states laws and reviews of the best licensed sportsbooks