Maryland’s Chances of Passing Online Gambling Bill Grow Slimmer as Deadline Passes

A Maryland bill proposing to authorize online casinos with virtual slot machines and table games has a slim chance of passing this year after the state legislature failed to take action on the gaming expansion measure before the “Crossover Day” deadline.

The Maryland Senate held their first session of 2023 on January 11th. However, the Senate bill to authorize Maryland iGaming was not approved by the upper chamber before the General Assembly’s “Crossover Day.” This is the cut-off point for a piece of legislation to be considered in both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly. Crossover Day falls three weeks before the legislature adjourns for the year, which is April 10 in 2023.

In January, state Senators Ron Watson (D-Prince George) and Nancy King (D-Montgomery) introduced Senate Bill 267, also known as the “Internet Gaming Authorization and Implementation Act.” This bill seeks to ask state voters if they want to expand commercial casino gaming to the internet through a ballot referendum.

However, SB 267 faces a difficult path to approval, as it requires two-thirds majority support in each chamber of the General Assembly. If the iGaming bill receives the necessary approval, only a simple majority of the voters on the ballot is required to legalize internet casinos.

Crossover Day now having passed, state lawmakers would need to give priority to the iGaming measure and expedite its discussions. This is unlikely, as the Assembly has over 100 pieces of legislation that were approved prior to the deadline.

SB 267 aims to create new tax revenue for state education. Currently, Maryland’s casino industry consists of six commercial casinos and retail and online sports betting. This industry mainly supports K-12 public education and generated gross gaming revenue of over $2 billion last year. The Maryland Education Trust Fund, which supports early childhood education, public elementary to secondary education, public school construction, and capital improvement projects, collected about $617.1 million in 2022 casino taxes.

Although the chances of iGaming passing this year in Maryland are slim, state lawmakers did approve bills which seek to change the regulatory aspects of sports betting in the state.

Senate Bill 620, introduced by Senator Shelly Hettleman (D-Baltimore County), requires any sportsbook partnership formed with a college or university in the state to disclose the details of the marketing agreement publicly. This bill was passed unanimously in the Senate earlier this month and transferred to the House last week.

Senate Bill 621, introduced by Senator Craig Zucker (D-Anne Arundel County) and co-sponsored by Hettleman, was also passed before the state deadline. This bill allows the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency to audit sports betting handicappers, and if a handicapping service loses more money than it wins, it could be subject to an investigation and have its business license revoked.