As reported last week, voters in the states of Nebraska, Louisiana and Maryland are heading to the polls on November 3, and in addition to making their choice for President, residents of those states will be exercising their democratic right to choose whether or not their state will adopt legal sports betting. However, just like the influence of lobbyists and big business fund either the red or blue side of politics, so too vested interests are making their mark in the sports betting referenda.
In particular, in Maryland, leading online sportsbooks FanDuel and DraftKings are spending heavily in order to add the Old Line State to the others that legally operate in. It has been widely reported that DraftKings and FanDuel have spent in excess of $2.75 million on donations to the ‘Yes’ campaign to legalize sports wagering.
With Maryland ranking #1 nationwide in terms of median household income (more than $83k per household on an annual basis), the sports betting industry – FanDuel and DraftKings in particular – see a huge opportunity to turn a buck in Maryland.
On November 3, the voters of Maryland will be asked if they wish to legalize sports betting, and importantly, only a simple majority of 50.01% or more is required for the ballot referendum on sports betting to become state law.
‘Vote Yes on Question 2’ funding
A sports betting advocacy group called “Vote Yes on Question 2” is chaired by Marissa Coleman, a former University of Maryland and WNBA star and is airing broadcasts and cable ads in the Old Line State.
In a campaign finance summary filed recently with the Maryland State Board of Elections, the advocacy group reports that FanDuel and DraftKings gave the $2.5 million since launching their campaign in August.
DraftKings kicked off the funding round with a $275 000 donation in August and followed that up with another two donations totaling $1million in September. FanDuel made two contributions totaling $1.5 million, bringing the cumulative donations from the sportsbook giants to $2.775 million at last count.
According to the Freedom of Information on campaign financing in Maryland, “Vote Yes on Question 2” has already spent more than $2 million in attempting to convince the state’s voters to choose for sports betting legalization. Almost $1.3 million has already been spent across all forms of media advertising, including spots on television, radio, internet advertising, and automated calls to the state’s citizens.
Throw in $648 800 spent on direct mailings, $28 000 on yard signs, $40 500 used to conduct surveys and polls and it’s clear that “Vote Yes on Question 2” is taking its role quite seriously in the fight for sports betting legalization in Maryland.
It has been estimated by sports betting industry experts that legalized sports wagering in Maryland could generate in excess of $40 million in annual tax revenue, according to a study. Rather than have those funds go into the consolidated revenue pot, lawmakers have indicated that the funds will raised will go straight towards funding education.
It’s been a master stroke by legislators to include the education funding message directly into the text of the referendum question;
“Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and event betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”
Sportsbook Operators Line Up to begin in Maryland
In addition to FanDuel and DraftKings, the following online sportsbooks are already jockeying for position in Maryland;
It’s still unclear at this stage how many sports betting skins will be allowed per license in the state of Maryland.