The Maryland state legislature has approved legislation to legalize sports betting. The vote passed in the House of Delegates who approved the final measure 122-16 on Monday evening. The vote also passed through the state Senate a few hours before with a 47-0 vote. The current Governor, Lawrence J. Hogan Jr has confirmed that he will likely sign the bill into law.
Sports betting in Maryland
Sports betting was approved in Maryland last year after state voters took part in a referendum on the subject. As a result of this new bill, the state will award as many as 60 licenses for mobile betting apps and 47 extra licences will be approved for in-person betting operations. There will be a pretty significant cost to apply for a licence, companies that want to run a sportsbook will have to pay an up-front fee. Major enterprises like international betting operators and casinos will have to pay $2 million for a license that will last five years but smaller, mom-and-pop shops will pay significantly less.
The bill, House Bill 940, lays out how the sports betting in the state will be operated. It calls for certain license holders to accept sports wagering on particular events and that operators must apply to the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to make sure they can receive certain licenses. If the bill is signed into law, it will also necessitate the creation and installation of a Sports Wagering Application Review Commission. This will take charge of the license applications as well as the development of a free or low-cost gambling prevention program.
Comments from the lawmakers
Governor Lawrence J. Hogan spoke about the plans that the lawmakers have drawn up and how it will effect sports and esports betting going forward:
“They seem to have worked a pretty good agreement to make most stakeholders somewhat acceptable to the bill. I can’t really say exactly without reading it, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to act on that one pretty quickly.”
A Democrat senator, Craig J. Zucker, who leads a Senate workgroup on sports wagering spoke on Monday about the new bill:
“The voters spoke and the Maryland General Assembly delivered. Sports betting will soon be up and operational in Maryland as early as the Fall. Money from this will fund education all while providing opportunities for small, minority owned, and women owned businesses to participate in the market.”
The new bill and esports betting
This is good news for the esports betting industry looking to move into another region in the US. In many cases, esports are treated as second class when it comes to the world of sports betting, especially when it comes to new legislation. The wording tends to cover traditional sports, fantasy sports, and maybe even virtual sports betting.
A bill that was passed back in 2019 in Maryland makes sure that esports betting in the state will become as legal as betting on the NFL. In 2019, Gov. Lawrence Hogan signed the eSports Act into law. The act defined the sport as a competition that involves video games, strategy games, multiplayer online battle arenas, and first-person shooters.
It also made sure that they enshrined esports betting in the USA into their state laws. This means that when the sports betting legislation comes into effect in the summer, esports betting sites will be protected under the same legislation.