Maryland Sports Betting Bills Make It Through Crossover Day

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The Maryland Legislature’s crossover day passed Monday, and a few bills related to sports betting received action that could enable them to become law. 

Failing to pass into the opposite chamber in Maryland would not have signaled the end of a bill’s hopes of becoming law, but it would have decreased those chances. A bill moved into the opposite chamber after the crossover deadline is subject to referral to rules committees, which often is enough of a procedural hurdle to prevent bills from passing before the end of the legislative session.

Maryland’s legislative session is scheduled to conclude on April 10.

College partnerships questioned

One of the legislative efforts targets Maryland universities forming partnerships with sports betting operators. 

SB 620, which was introduced by Shelly Hettleman, was inspired by a series of New York Times articles about colleges partnering with sportsbook operators. Hettleman didn’t want Maryland colleges to receive financial incentives for students signing up for mobile sportsbooks. The University of Maryland is partnered with PointsBet, and it’s worth noting that PointsBet’s deal with the school doesn’t include promotional bonus incentives for student or alumni sign-ups. 

The bill also hopes to bring those partnership deals into the public light. If it becomes law, SB 620 would require that the contracts between universities and sportsbook operators be publicly available. 

SB 620 is scheduled for a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on March 30.

Similar legislation in the House, HB 802, passed through the chamber on March 15. It’s expected to be discussed next by the Senate Education, Energy, and Environment Committee. 

Auditing handicappers

A bill (SB 621) that would allow the Maryland Lottery to license independent evaluators to audit sports betting handicappers and touts passed through the Senate on Monday. A similar legislative effort in West Virginia recently failed. 

The goal of the legislation isn’t to ban losing handicappers from providing content to Maryland bettors, but rather to eliminate misleading touts from the industry. Companies like SharpRank are hoping to be in the mix as independent evaluators should Maryland eventually implement an auditing process. 

While the theory behind the legislation makes sense, putting the idea into practice seems tougher. The bill was recently amended to “authorize” sports betting operators to contract with companies like SharpRank to audit their in-house and affiliated handicappers, but it won’t be “required” by the legislation. Should the bill become law, it’s unclear how thorough a statewide tout audit would actually be.


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