Maryland iGaming Bill’s Odds Lengthen, as Legislation Stalls

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Posted on: March 21, 2023, 12:49h. 

Last updated on: March 21, 2023, 02:15h.

A Maryland iGaming bill seeking to authorize online casinos with interactive slots and table games faces long odds of passing this year after the state legislature moved past its “Crossover Day” without acting on the gaming expansion measure.

Maryland iGaming online casino gambling
The Maryland Senate during the chamber’s 2023 opening session day on January 11. A Senate bill to authorize Maryland iGaming didn’t pass in the upper chamber before the General Assembly’s “Crossover Day.” (Image: The Baltimore Sun)

Crossover Day is the deadline for guaranteeing that a piece of legislation passed in one chamber of the Maryland General Assembly is given consideration in the other chamber. Crossover Day is three weeks before the legislature is to adjourn for the year, which is April 10 in 2023.

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

SB 267 already faced long odds of passing as a legislative-initiated referendum to amend the Maryland Constitution requires two-thirds majority support in each chamber of the General Assembly. Should the iGaming bill receive such support, only a simple majority of the ballot vote would be required to legalize internet casinos.

Crossover Day Comes and Goes

SB 267 was assigned to the Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. The legislation received a first reading in the committee on January 25, but no vote occurred. SB 257 remains with the committee.

With Crossover Day now past, state lawmakers would need to give priority to the iGaming measure and expedite its discussions. That seems unlikely, as the Assembly has more than 100 pieces of legislation that were crossed over before Monday’s deadline.

Those measures are required to be considered in the chamber that they were passed to, a hefty workload with less than 20 days remaining before adjournment.

SB 267 sought to create new tax money for state education. Maryland’s casino industry, which is currently limited to six brick-and-mortar commercial casinos, and retail and online sports betting, primarily supports K-12 public education.

The state casinos generated gross gaming revenue north of $2 billion last year. The Maryland Education Trust Fund, which supports early childhood education, public elementary through secondary education, public school construction, and capital improvement projects, collected about $617.1 million in 2022 casino taxes.

Sports Betting Bills Cross Chambers

While iGaming seems unlikely to pass this year in Maryland, state lawmakers did give their blessing to statutes that seek to amend the regulatory sports betting environment in the Old Line State.

Senate Bill 620, introduced by Sen. Shelly Hettleman (D-Baltimore County), seeks to require that any sportsbook partnership struck with a college or university in the state make public the details of the marketing pact. SB 620 passed the Senate unanimously earlier this month and was transferred to the House last week.

Senate Bill 621, introduced by Sen. Craig Zucker (D-Anne Arundel County) and co-sponsored by Hettleman, was also crossed over before the state deadline. SB 621 seeks to allow the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency to audit sports betting handicappers. Handicapping services that lose more than they win would be subject to a state probe and possible revocation of their business license.

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