Maryland Sports Betting Begins to take legislative shape

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02/24/2021
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Maryland’s nascent sports betting industry took some huge steps forward recently as lawmakers began seriously debating what the state’s sports wagering model should eventually look like. Maryland’s voters overwhelmingly voted “yes” for sports betting in the statewide referendum that took place on Presidential Election Day.

The first of its kind in the Old-Line State, Maryland’s House Bill 940 (HB 940) addresses sports wagering, both bricks-and-mortar and online, with the surprising inclusion of new taxes on daily fantasy sports included in the mix.

Horse Racing Tracks & Casinos Allowed to Apply for Sports Betting Licenses

Under HB 940, Maryland casino and horse racing tracks would be permitted to apply for betting licenses and the state would also allow for online sports betting for exclusively online-operators only. Land-based sportsbooks would pay a proposed $250 000 licensing fee, while online sportsbook operators would pay double that at $500 000.

The state would permit up to 10 online sports betting operator licenses. The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) would potentially handout sports betting licenses. The SWARC was created as a purpose-built model this year to exclusively oversee Maryland sports betting. For both land-based and online sportsbooks, the renewal fees would take place every five years and cost anywhere between $10 000 and $100 000.

Both online and retail sports betting operators would start at a 15% tax. However, the online-only sportsbooks would potentially pay a 17.5% tax after their first $5 million in revenue.

Which Online Sportsbooks Should You Expect to see in Maryland?

Residents of the state of Maryland are hoping that their version of a sports betting industry could be every bit as professional and well-run as that of the leading sports wagering state of New Jersey. A critical part of ensuring that process will be to have the best sportsbooks operating out of Maryland.

Maryland is anticipating to have at least 10 online-only operators along with bricks-and-mortar sportsbooks at the six existing casinos in the state. The state also plans to offer licenses to the two racetracks which would allow for an estimated 18 sportsbooks in Maryland.

The casinos will most likely feature online sportsbooks that will be established due to pre-existing partnerships. MGM Harbor National is almost certain to feature BetMGM, and Horseshoe Casino Maryland will bring in its partner in Caesars Sportsbook. Barstool Sportsbook may well become established with Hollywood Casino Perryville as the property was recently acquired by Barstool’s partner, Penn National.

Live! Casino & Hotel in Baltimore is expected to run with FanDuel, Ocean Downs may well get onboard with Twin Spires as its sports betting operator, and Rocky Gap Casino Resort is expected to partner with William Hill.

That leaves up to 12 other places open for online sports betting operators. Big players in the New Jersey market like DraftKings, 888Sport, and SugarHouse Sports (through its BetRivers brand) are widely expected to feature in Maryland.

Other innovative new sportsbooks like PlayUp, PointsBet, the Score Bet and Tipico will almost certainly seek to tie down one of the online-only sports betting licenses.

What will the tax revenue money fund in Maryland?

Under HB 940, it is proposed that the operators will keep 85% of legal sports betting proceeds and the remaining 15% will go directly into Maryland’s Future Fund and be used to introduce a range of sweeping reforms in education in the state;

“…the State’s share of revenues generated by sports and event wagering shall primarily be used for the funding of public education”

Recent media reports to the contrary need to be ignored and Marylanders should rest assured that sports betting revenue will find its way to funding public education.

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