Maryland Sports Betting Bill Sent to Senate with More Licenses

Maryland Sports Betting Bill Sent to Senate with More Licenses
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A sports wagering bill crafted by the Maryland House of Delegates was passed overwhelmingly Thursday after a third reading and sent to the Senate for consideration.

The typical legislative process in Maryland called for three readings of a bill in each chamber before it can approved by that chamber. The House voted 130-9 to send it to the Senate.

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Eventually, there will have to be a reconciliation of House and Senate versions of a sports wagering bill before final legislation is sent to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature. The state Senate has been formulating sports wagering legislation in work groups.

In November, Maryland voters approved a referendum calling for sports wagering by a 2-to-1 margin, but the rule-making was left up to the General Assembly, which is in session until April 12.

The House version of a sports wagering bill, HB 940, was amended and now calls for up to 22 sports wagering facility licenses (read as retail sportsbooks) and up to 15 online licenses.

Retail & Online Sports Betting Licenses

The retail licenses are divided into 12 Class A licenses (casinos, race tracks and pro sports facilities), and 10 Class B licenses (businesses that are not eligible for a Class A license). The online licenses, so far, are not tethered to retail sportsbooks but it’s widely assumed that many of the Class A license holders would apply for an online license.

The Maryland House has been explicit in expressing its ambition to have minority- and female-owned equity participation in the sports wagering industry in the state.

CHECK OUT: Q&A with Maryland State Sen. Craig Zucker on sports betting

In a previous hearing on the bill, Maryland Del. Darryl Barnes said the increase in Class B and online licenses was specifically designed to give minority businesses and women more opportunities to participate in the industry.

“And through conversations, a lot of the sports teams have come out and said that they are willing to give part of their ownership of their Class A license to a minority (participant),” Barnes said last week. “So, when you look at that, no one in the union has put together a sports (wagering) bill like we are doing here in the state of Maryland which gives greater opportunities for minorities to participate.”

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