House of Delegates in Maryland passes amended iGaming bill

Maryland iGaming Bill
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An online casino measure in Maryland is progressing in the state’s legislature.

House Bill 1319, introduced by House Delegate Vanessa E. Atterbeary, has passed in the Maryland House by a 92-43 vote and will now head to the Senate for further consideration.

The bill was passed in Maryland’s House of Delegates during its third reading following a series of amendments and two days before the state’s crossover date, which is March 18. The Senate will need to move quickly with HB 1319 as the General Assembly adjourns April 8.

Sen. Ron Watson introduced an online casino bill of his own in the Senate that did not gain any traction before failing to cross over before the Monday deadline. Senate President Bill Ferguson has told local outlets there isn’t much appetite for the chamber to take up gambling expansion.

HB 1319, which first hit the desk of lawmakers in February, proposes to authorize iGaming in the Old Line State with oversight provided by the Maryland State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency. If signed into law, HB 1319 offers up to 30 wagering licenses.

The licenses have a five-year term limit and require an initial $1 million application fee.

Operators can obtain three types of licenses in Maryland, which include licenses by right for retail casinos, Class B facility licenses and competitively awarded licenses. Renewal fees are 1% of an operator’s average annual gross proceeds from the last three years.

HB 1319 also bans credit cards to fund iGaming accounts and provides individuals who put themselves in the state’s voluntary self-exclusion program with a counselor.

Creating opportunity in Maryland

The potential legalization of regulated iGaming in Maryland will create an additional revenue stream that benefits public education and infrastructure across the state.

Regulated iGaming was included in a $1.3 billion budget plan presented by House leaders, according to the Associated Press. The plan, which is aimed at creating new revenue streams for the Old Line State, includes legalized iGaming and fee and toll increases.

“We can no longer rely on quick fixes or short-term approaches. They will only land us right back in the same place next year,” House Speaker Adrienne Jones told lawmakers during a news conference last week. “At this point, we know what the solution is, and it’s finally time that we just say it. The answer is revenues.”

The authorization of iGaming in Maryland is projected to generate over $900 million in annual revenue with a portion allocated toward the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund.

The fund, which supports K-12 education in Maryland, is facing rising costs while being fully funded by Maryland’s current budget.

Despite the potential influx of revenue, HB 1319 is drawing cannibalization concerns from hospitality workers, union leaders, and local organizations. The groups believe regulated iGaming in Maryland will lead to a loss of jobs and a decline in retail casino revenue.

A fiscal report projects a $64.7 million decline in funding for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund due to a drop in revenue at brick-and-mortar casinos.