Maryland Legislature Approves Inclusive Sports Betting Bill

Maryland Legislature Approves Inclusive Sports Betting Bill
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The Maryland General Assembly on Monday approved a sports wagering bill that provides for both retail and online betting and sent it to Gov. Larry Hogan to be signed into law.

The sports betting bill, which originated in the House of Delegates and is known as HB 940, opens up sports betting licenses to scores of potential applicants, both retail and online. The extraordinary bill will allow for the most varied array of sports betting opportunities for customers anywhere in the U.S. — from the Internet to casinos to sports stadiums to even bars and restaurants.

Monday was the last day of the Maryland General Assembly. The goal is to have sports wagering up and running by the start of football season.

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The bill was always designed to encourage the participation of small, minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the state’s sports wagering industry and the inclusive nature of the bill is crafted to do exactly that. In November, Maryland voters approved sports wagering overwhelmingly, 2-to-1, with tax receipts mainly going toward education.

Some Details About HB 940

Among the highlights of HB 940:

  • There are, in effect, two categories of proposed sports wagering facility licenses for retail sportsbooks. One tier that is referred to as “Class A” includes the state’s six casinos, racetracks and three pro sports venues where the Orioles, Ravens and Washington Football Team play. The larger of those businesses will pay a $2 million application fee and the smaller ones will pay a $1 million application fee.
  • Another category of retail sports wagering licenses known as "Class B" includes seven designated business including the Timonium Fairgrounds, two bingo parlors and OTBs. Another 30 licenses will be available to other businesses such as bars and restaurants. Those 30 licensees can be either B-1 or B-2, depending on their size. Larger businesses will play a $250,000 application fee and smaller ones will pay a $50,000 application fee.
  • There is just one category for online sports wagering licensing and there will be 60 online licenses available.
  • A proposal that designates a pot of money will be funded from license applications fees from the larger retail licensees (and other sources) that will go toward assisting smaller retail applicants.
  • A proposed tax rate of 15% for all operators.
  • Yet-to-be named members of a Sports Wagering Application Review Commission will review and award licenses. The review process appears to be more streamlined for the retail licenses but the review of online licenses will give preference to online operators with significant minority and/or women participation to be early movers.
  • A provision for $1.5 million each for Morgan State University and Bowie State University to establish a Center for the Study of Data Analytics and Sports Gaming at each university.
  • Included are specific provisions for self-exclusion from sports wagering for bettors who want to restrict their gambling behavior, for a prohibition on advertising aimed at minors and for measures that help protect wagering consumers.