Debate over new Maryland sports gambling industry enters final stages


As the Maryland General Assembly enters its final stretch, lawmakers are still working out the details of a new sports gambling industry in the state.

A bill setting up an industry with a combination of in-person and online betting cleared the House of Delegates and is now in the hands of a Senate committee, which heard pleas Thursday from businesses that want to be included in the plans.

Maryland voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing betting on sports during last fall’s general election.

The House of Delegates approved a bill sponsored by Speaker Adrienne A. Jones with a combination of several in-person betting licenses to be awarded to specific businesses, 10 in-person betting licenses open for applications and 15 online and mobile betting licenses that would be open for applications.

The guaranteed in-person betting licenses would be awarded to: the state’s six casinos, the Laurel Park thoroughbred racetrack, the Maryland state fairgrounds in Timonium and Riverboat on the Potomac, an off-track betting facility on the Potomac River. The bill also allows for in-person betting at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on race days and at the Orioles’, Ravens’ and Washington Football Team’s stadiums on game days and during special events.

The state would receive 15% of the gambling proceeds in the form of a tax.

The money that comes in — expected to be in the neighborhood of $20 million a year — would go largely to public education.

After the speaker’s bill sailed through the House on a 129-10 vote earlier this month, it landed in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

A parade of business owners and entrepreneurs appeared via video before the committee Thursday, asking senators to expand on the speaker’s bill.

Representatives from the Rod ‘N’ Reel resort in Chesapeake Beach, Bingo World in Brooklyn Park and Long Shot’s Restaurant & Bar in Frederick all asked for the chance to have a guaranteed sports betting licenses, like the casinos, tracks and stadiums.