The Maryland General Assembly is one of the first in the country to consider legislation for sports wagering. With the COVID-19 pandemic having passed, it is now time for lawmakers to turn their attention to the future of gambling in the state.
The Maryland General Assembly will hold an initial public hearing on Thursday, May 14, regarding proposals to legalize online betting. If the legislation is passed, it would join Delaware and New Jersey as the only states where gamestaking is legal.
Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland share a border and have a significant amount of shared history. The three states are also home to some of the most important sports franchises in the country. It is no surprise that the discussion of legalizing online betting in these three states has increased substantially.
Why Is Online Gambling A Growing Trend?
Some states have taken a more direct route in addressing online gambling. In 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the Pequea Valley vs. Madison Square Garden case that interstate gambling transactions are legal as long as the states have not prohibited such activity. This decision has greatly expanded the market for online casinos and wagering businesses in general.
However, even prior to the SCOTUS ruling, states had a difficult time prosecuting online casinos due to the fact that these businesses are technically located in another state. This has given rise to the gray area that lawmakers and state officials are struggling with regarding interstate sports betting.
How Does This Legislative Proposal Differ From The SCOTUS Ruling?
The existing legislative proposal in Maryland would require online betting operators to be headquartered in the state. In addition, the legislation would prevent sportsbooks from operating in the state and would make sure the state is getting its share of revenue from such businesses. Finally, the legislation would prevent customers in the state from accessing foreign-based sports betting websites. The three main differences between the SCOTUS ruling and the legislative proposal in Maryland are:
- The proposed legislation in Maryland would allow for intrastate betting only. Interstate wagering would still be barred by law, which is consistent with the SCOTUS ruling.
- The existing legislative proposal in Maryland would apply to fantasy sports, while the SCOTUS ruling only applies to traditional sports betting. However, this is likely to be amended in the future to include fantasy sports betting as well.
- The existing legislative proposal in Maryland would require operators of online betting businesses to be headquartered in the state. The SCOTUS ruling does not have such a requirement.
If enacted, the proposed legislation in Maryland would eliminate the need for the gray area that currently exists regarding gambling in the state. It is still uncertain whether or not the SCOTUS ruling will be applied to the fantasy sports betting world, but the existing legislative proposal is likely to be amended to include this form of wagering in the future.
What Do The Proponents Of Legalizing Online Gambling In Maryland Stand For?
Proponents of legalizing online gambling in Maryland currently stand for fair play and consumer confidence. They believe that allowing legal gambling in the state will bring in more business and ensure that consumers are protected from fraudulent activity. Further, some supporters of legal sports gambling in Maryland claim that current laws regarding sports betting prevent certain businesses from operating in the state, which limits competition. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, legal gambling would have undoubtedly led to more business opportunities and consumer protection for the state.
If the Legislature passes the bill, it would join the ranks of Delaware and New Jersey as the only other states where online betting is legal.
When Will Online Betting Be Legal In Maryland?
As previously mentioned, the Maryland General Assembly is one of the first states to consider legislation regarding sports wagering. It is therefore uncertain as to when online betting in Maryland will be legalized. However, it is certain that this conversation will continue to grow because of the significant shared history between the three bordering states and the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the sports betting world.