Lawmakers want to put Maryland online casinos on the ballot

Sample ballot question bubbles with a pen
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Maryland is the latest state to introduce legislation that would expand online gambling options in the state to include online casino and online poker options in addition to online sportsbooks.

State Sens. Ronald Watson and Nancy King have introduced legislation to allow VLT operators in the state to offer online casino-style gambling as well. The bill, SB 267, does not elaborate on the scope of what falls under “casino-style gaming”, so it is unclear if this bill would include online poker in addition to online slots and table games.

The five-year licenses would cost $500,000. There is no mention of the tax rate that would come with the venture.

The Maryland Lottery, which oversees VLT parlors, casinos, and sports betting, would be tasked with regulation and oversight of online casinos as well.

Since Maryland is a state which requires a constitutional amendment to expand gambling in the state, this issue would be put to the voters. The bill proposes putting the following question to the voters:

“Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize Internet gaming for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”

When sports betting was on the ballot in the 2020 election, it passed easily by a 67% majority. Once passed, lawmakers then hammered out the specifics of sports betting legislation in the following legislative session. It then took regulators until late last year to actually launch online wagering in the state.

The legalization of video lottery properties (casinos) within the state passed with a 58% majority in 2008. The only gambling-related election question in the state to be relatively split was a 2012 ballot measure to allow for an additional casino property in Prince George’s County. That measure just barely passed, with a 51.9% majority.