Gamblers and players in Maryland have expected the legalization of online casinos for a very long time, and this year their dream was supposed to come true. Even Senate Bill 267 approved it, but it seems the casinos won’t be legalized anytime soon.
The obstacles on the way:
The House side of the General Assembly still didn’t approve the bill. The General Assembly could possibly approve it, but it has to be introduced to the House first.
The state senator Ron Watson, Co-sponsor, is convinced that online gambling will be allowed next year if nothing happens by April 10th, when the end of the session in the House is scheduled.
Maryland online casinos can offer sweepstakes and social online gaming services. However, the games like slots and table games can be played, but without any real money.
Online sports betting was legalized in Maryland in November 2022, and the next step is online casino gambling and online poker.
Watson commented on this in January: “People are already playing online, so why not legalize and regulate it?”
The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency has to grant licenses and regulate the online casino industry in order to start gambling in Maryland.
The state will benefit from the legalization: Watson thinks the tax revenue would be about $100 million a year.
He said: “Especially now that folks have started to see the revenue we can get from sports betting, I think we’re past the point of hesitation, and we’ve realized that casinos are so valuable to our economy here in Maryland. If we had to endure another pandemic and sports shut down, we would have zero money generated from our existing casinos and that would be a shame. But if we can put in place online gaming, we’ll have another revenue stream that can fund our aggressive efforts to improve our education system in Maryland.”
The benefits for the state:
The tax rate will be 15%, and the fee for a five-year license will cost $500.000. Even renewal of the license will cost 1% of the average profit in the last three years. The revenue the state collects will be used to fund the Education Trust Fund, and regulatory expenses will be covered too.
SB 267 will also allow bonus play and promotional deductions.
The state will focus on minorities since it’s the only way that will allow everyone to profit from the casinos.
The plans for online casino legislation don’t go as planned. However, Watson is positive that everything will go as predicted next year. He said: “I’m very confident that we’ll have something that we can pass by next year. We have plenty of time to work it out. In some cases like this, we may form a summer study group to hammer out the details, but I’m pretty sure we’ll have something next year ready to roll.”
But even if the bill passes everything next year, the players won’t be able to gamble or play poker until 2025.