Maryland is a state, which has played an essential role in American history, and which now has a population of just over 6 million people. Ranking second in terms of household income and fifth in terms of population density, Maryland is also known for the wide variety of regulated gambling markets it is home to.
In fact, gambling activities are not a novelty in Maryland as they were used as a source of income back in colonial times. Even though gambling became less common during the 19th and 20th centuries, lotteries, off-track betting, and casino games started to gain traction a couple of years ago. The openness to change of lawmakers has also helped for the creation of the gambling-friendly environment Maryland is celebrated for.
Today, Maryland is home to several leading teams, the likes of NCAA’s Maryland Terrapins, NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, and MLB’s Baltimore Orioles, which goes to show why it is said to be a fertile ground for sports betting.
Maryland follows suit after its neighboring states like Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania that have already approved sports betting. In spite of the fact that voters gave the green light to betting on sports on the ballot back in 2020, the industry is yet to become up and running. Continue to read to learn more about the sports betting regulations and the legal forms of gambling in Maryland.
A Walk Through The Changes in the Gambling Industry
Maryland also lists among the states that are looking to expand their gambling profile, and the year-long history of gambling activities, coupled with the openness to gambling of the neighboring states, go to explain the move towards a more liberal market.
As for the gambling prevalence in the state, it should be noted that when the figures for 2017 are compared to those for the period prior to the introduction of casino gambling, it turns out that the number of gamblers has remained stable throughout the years, and it has been around 87%.
It should be pointed out that casino games continue to garner lots of attention and, in spite of the fact that the revenues have significantly dwindled because of the Coronavirus outbreak, the casinos in Maryland held up better in comparison with the casinos in the other states.
Maryland’s legislation is unambiguous when it comes to the availability and illegality of the different forms of gambling, and the current legal framework is determined by the following changes in the legal landscape.
What Is Happening with The Sports Betting Industry of Maryland Today
Most people hope that sports betting will be a reality soon, all the more so considering what widespread approval the expansion of commercial sports betting got. In spite of the fact that legislators gave the nod to several bills that pave the way for sports betting, its launch is yet to come, meaning that legally betting on sports in the state is not an option at the moment. Yet, there are still offshore sports betting platforms that operate in Maryland without the needed authorization.
It should be pointed out that the attempts for the legalization of sports betting started several years ago, and initially, the idea of lawmakers was to make this form of gambling available at racetracks and lottery retailers. Still, this proposal was largely frowned upon, which in practice set the stage for the changes that took place in 2020 and 2021, thus showing that legislatures come out serious on that issue.
Gov. Larry Hogan was the one to sign in the HB 940 bill, which legalizes betting on sports in Maryland in May this year, and the purpose of this piece of legislation is to provide the basis for the future development of the industry. According to the provisions of the bill, a two-tiered licensing system will be in place, and the permit operators will be given will be determined by the scope of their offerings.
As it turns out, Senator Craig Zucker is one of the biggest proponents of sports betting and can be described as a figure with a significant contribution to the shaping of the sports betting industry of the state. In fact, he was the one to introduce the sports betting bill, which was unanimously approved.
It goes without saying that a larger amount of time will be required until Maryland’s gambling industry becomes fully-fledged, but the good news is that gambling enthusiasts are already just a few months away from betting on sports without violating the law.
Horse Racing in Maryland
Horse racing is one of the things Maryland is best known for, and this is hardly a surprise considering that the sport has a 150-years old history in the state. During that time, Maryland has hosted numerous major events, and say nothing of the fact that it is home to Pimlico Race Course, which is one of the oldest tracks in the US.
Today, there are a total of six racetracks on the territory of the state, and these include Timonium Race Course, Pimlico Race Course, Fair Hill Races, Laurel Park, Ocean Downs, and Rosecroft Raceway.
Betting on horse races is possible at all of these racetracks, but as they head over to Timonium Race Course or Pimlico Race Course, punters cannot enjoy live racing there. Aside from being one of the six brick-and-mortar casinos in Maryland, Ocean Downs stands out as the only racino within the state.
These are not the only options gambling enthusiasts will have when they feel like placing a few bets on horse racing, as there are several standalone OTBs across the state. These include Riverboat on the Potomac, Greenmount Station, and Long Shot. In addition to this, three of the casinos in Maryland have off-track betting parlors.
Fortunately for gambling enthusiasts, they are not required to go all the way to one of the casinos or the OTBs in order to bet on horse races, as they can do so also over the Internet, which is the case in most other US states.
Daily Fantasy Sports in Maryland
Interestingly enough, Maryland was the very first state to make daily fantasy sports contests legal, and this happened back in 2012. The introduction of the Maryland House Bill 7 (2012) made betting on daily fantasy sports an option for residents of the state to enjoy because they were no longer included in the definition of gambling. In this way, such betting options were added to the line-ups of covered sports of all majors sportsbooks that cater to this market.
Operators are not required to apply for a license or pay such fees in order to offer daily fantasy sports contests to residents of the state. With this in mind, it is a must for operators to impose a deposit limit of $1,000 at the most. Besides, colleague sports contests cannot be included in the agenda of operators. Another essential thing that should be taken into account is that officers, employees, contractors, or principals are not allowed to engage in daily fantasy sports contests.
Paid-entry fantasy sports contests became a hot topic in Maryland a few years ago, and there were even calls for the introduction of a blanket ban on such. In spite of the fact that a bill was made out, it was not put forward.
Are Lotteries and Bingo Available in Maryland
As far as bingo goes, it should be mentioned that only charitable games are allowed and the laws that apply to these games vary wildly between the different counties and cities. An important thing to mention about bingo halls is that the permissions required to operate such are not granted on a state level, but on a county level instead.
There are requirements about the charge for admission, which cannot be greater than $5, jackpot prizes cannot go over $5,000, and license holders cannot conduct bingo for more than 125 days per year.
As is the case with the majority of the gambling-friendly US states, the legal gambling age in Maryland is also 21 years. Yet, lotteries, betting on horse races, or playing bingo are much more widely available as players must be at least 18 years old to participate in any of these.
The scope of the gambling options continues to expand, and a Senate Bill was passed to allow residents of the state to play poker and mahjong at home.
Online Sports Betting in Maryland
It is safe to say that gambling has gone back and forth in Maryland, but its gambling industry is much more developed when compared to other states. When online gambling is concerned, at the moment, there are no web-based casinos or poker portals that operate legally in Maryland. Betting on horse races is the only option residents of the state have if they are more into betting over the Internet.
According to the state’s legislation, accepting bets or engaging in gambling activities without the respective seal of approval is not allowed on the territory of Maryland. This is to say that accommodating gambling enthusiasts from Maryland is a no-go for operators at the moment.
In spite of the fact that most other US states envisage penalties for gambling enthusiasts and operators who are found to violate the law, this is not the case with Maryland. Another thing, which is worth noting about the state is that it does not go after gambling enthusiasts who use the services of offshore sports betting platforms.
|Legality||Things to Consider|
|Offline Gambling||Legal||Race tracks and casinos|
|Online Gambling||Legal||Daily fantasy sports and horse race betting. Sports betting is still pending|
|Charitable Gambling||Legal||Only playing bingo is possible|
Gaming Regulatory Bodies in Maryland
The State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency is authorized by the General Assembly and it has been working since 1973. Now, it has five divisions, and initially, its duties included the sale of lottery tickets and the distribution of prizes. Still, when land-based casinos were authorized, their oversight was also added to the list of the responsibilities of the Agency during a special session of the senate.
After the legalization of sports betting, the oversight of such gambling activities was delegated to the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission through House Bill 940. The State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission plays the role of an advisory board to State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, and its responsibilities include overseeing the operations of video lottery terminals, lotteries, and gaming services.
It should also be mentioned that thoroughbred horse racing falls under the purview of the Maryland Horse Races Commission. Its responsibilities also include overseeing and regulating the seven off-track betting sites that operate across the state, as well as guaranteeing the proper distribution of the staked amounts.
The newly set-up Sports Wagering Application Review Commission is authorized by the General Assembly in May 2021, and its responsibilities are to scrutinize and evaluate the applications for sports betting licenses. The licenses the Commission awards can be Class A and Class B, and the first type is given to major sports franchises and video lottery operators. Class B licenses, on the other hand, are given to commercial bingo entities, qualified horse racing, and simulcast betting.
Types of Licenses Operators Can Apply for And Fees
As it was mentioned already, the licensing system, which was established in Maryland is two-tiered. Class A licenses are given for the brick-and-mortar casinos across the state, the Jockey Club, along with the professional sports stadium and teams. Most people hope that in the future, licenses will be granted to the teams of NHL, MLS, and NBA.
Class B licenses are awarded to local businesses that are open for competitive bidding. These include bingo halls that have 200 or more slot machines, off-track betting parlors, and the State Fairgrounds.
The first entities that will get permission to offer in-person sports betting have already become known, and as we explained already, these include five racetracks, six casinos, and three professional stadiums. According to the laws that were already passed, the number of Class B licenses is limited to 30, while digital licenses are capped at 60.
There are several other limitations that have raised concerns among gambling operators, and one of the things they are worried about is that promotional play will not have a ceiling during the first year after they kick off their services in Maryland. Yet, the regulations envisage that once the first year ends, promotional play cannot go over 20% of the sports wagering proceeds of the operator for the previous year.
Operators are also concerned about the duration of the period when disputes should be resolved, the requested changes in their betting menus, and promotions, among others.
Responsible Play Policies in Maryland
Considering that gambling is thriving in Maryland, it makes sense that problem gambling is not an unheard-of issue. That being said, this issue is not turned a blind eye to, and there are several programs and organizations that can help problem gamblers along. This is exactly the case with the Maryland Alliance for Responsible Gambling and The Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling.
Maryland’s voluntary self-exclusion program is another option gambling enthusiasts have when they feel like their betting session is going out of control. In order to take advantage of it, punters are required to fill and file an application, and in this way, they will not be admitted to any of the gambling premises on the territory of the state.
Please note that once the application is filed, the exclusion will remain valid for a period of 24 months, and the procedure cannot be suspended. In certain circumstances, the inclusion in the program might even be permanent.
Sports Betting Promotions in Maryland
As far as bonuses and special deals go, there are a number of key terms gambling operators should be aware of as they will have a significant impact on their efforts to attract new users on board. First off, such bonus incentives should be presented in an unambiguous manner and should not be directed towards individuals who are under the age of 21.
Additionally, individuals who are younger than 21 years old cannot take part in advertisements of activities that are related to sports betting. The information, which has to do with the promotion itself needs to be explained in a clear-cut manner, and these include the offered perks, available bets, and so on.