Maryland lawmakers approve two new sportsbook marketing laws

Inside of Maryland legislature in Annapolis
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Sports betting advertising was on the minds of Maryland lawmakers this session as not one but two different bills cleared the legislature and are headed to Gov. Wes Moore’s office for signature.

Last week lawmakers approved SB620 with unanimous support. The bill prohibits state universities from entering into marketing deals with sportsbooks. More specifically:

“An institution of higher education may not enter into a contract with a sports marketing entity that enters into a contract with a regulated gaming entity or an agent of a regulated gaming entity if, under the terms of the contract, either the sports marketing entity or the institution of higher education receives a commission, bonus, or any other incentive payment based on the success of securing student participation in sports wagering or online sports wagering.”

The bill also mandates any school with a sportsbook partnership will need to disclose the full terms of any deal. With that in mind, it will directly impact the partnership between PointsBet and Maryland. The sportsbook recently terminated its deal with the University of Colorado at Boulder, which did include an affiliate referral fee of $30 for the university. It is unclear if PointsBet’s deal with Maryland also features such an offer or if it is purely about brand advertising at athletic events, but once this bill goes into effect, those details will be open to the public.

The other bill that made it through at the literal stroke of midnight as the last bill of the session was SB621, the bill to create a regulatory framework for sports betting content audit companies. The measure passed with a couple of small amendments in the House by a 107-29 vote, then returned to the Senate for concurrence, where it passed 43-1.

The bill underwent several changes during the session, including revising the scope of the bill from mandatory to optional auditing by licensed firms such as Maryland-based SharpRank. Even though content auditing is not mandatory, it does mean the state lottery will establish both a regulatory framework of how to approve and license auditors as well as a framework for how to evaluate operator content and how that content relates to the betting activities of the sportsbook.

Both bills are set to take effect on July 1 of this year.