In the wake of an unsuccessful attempt to bring legal online casino gaming in front of Maryland voters during the 2023 legislative session, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission (MLGC) has embarked on a comprehensive study to explore the possibilities of legalizing online casinos in the state.
Maryland Legislators Pin Hopes on Study’s Impact to Revive Online Casino Legalization Bill
State Senator Ronald L. Watson, a co-sponsor of the 2023 bill (SB 267) which sought to legalize online casinos in Maryland, expressed his enthusiasm for the ongoing study. Although the bill did not gain sufficient support during the previous legislative session, Senator Watson remains hopeful that the study’s findings might sway more lawmakers in favor of online casino legalization. Since Maryland’s state constitution currently prohibits gambling, any changes in this regard would ultimately require voter approval.
The MLGC, responsible for conducting the study, plans to enlist the expertise of a third-party entity to facilitate research in key areas. Some of the focal points of the study include assessing the potential market size for online casinos in Maryland, evaluating the economic impact on existing retail casino locations, analyzing the potential effects on the state’s lottery system, investigating the impact of online casinos on problem gambling, and reviewing data from other states that have already legalized online casinos. The results of the study must be submitted to the Maryland General Assembly by November 15.
Should the study indicate that legalizing online casino gaming would be beneficial for the state, Senator Watson and other proponents are likely to reintroduce a revised bill during the 2024 legislative session. If approved, the bill would then be put to a vote, allowing Maryland voters to decide on the future of online casino gaming in the state during the 2024 election.
Maryland’s Absence in the Online Casino Boom Raises Concerns
Currently, Maryland permits legal sports betting in physical locations like casinos and stadiums, as well as online. The state boasts ten mobile sportsbooks, including well-known national brands like BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel. These ventures have proven to be profitable, with tax revenue directed toward supporting public schools. However, despite the success of sports betting, Maryland does not currently allow online casino gaming.
With neighboring states such as Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia already permitting online casino gambling, Maryland stands to lose potential tax revenue and economic opportunities without legalizing online casinos.
Rhode Island is also set to join the list of states allowing online casinos, with legislation slated to take effect on March 1, 2024. As Maryland embarks on this pivotal study, the outcomes may pave the way for a new era of online casino gaming, potentially transforming the state’s gambling landscape and providing its residents with more opportunities for entertainment and economic growth.