Maryland lawmakers float bill to introduce online casinos

Just two months after launching online sports wagering in the state, Maryland has officially announced their entrance into the race for online casino legalization.

Maryland Senators Ronald Watson (Democrat, Prince George’s County) and Nancy King (Democrat, Montgomery County) submitted an “Internet Gaming – Authorization and Implementation” bill on Wednesday designed to make Maryland online casinos available to the state’s six million residents.

The bill, SB 267, would authorize the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to issue licenses to video lottery operators in Maryland to conduct Internet gaming operations. The bill clearly states it supports “casino-style gaming through an online gaming system,” on a computer or mobile device.

The bill sets the initial license fee for an Internet gaming license at $500,000, good for five years.

The new proposal to launch Internet gaming follows behind the state’s rollout of retail sports betting in December 2021 and then online/mobile sports betting in November 2022. Maryland sports betting continues to add new operators constantly.

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) issued a sports wagering facility license to Maryland Stadium Sub, which has a retail sportsbook located at FedEx Field, the Washington Commanders stadium in Landover. The FedEx Field location is the 10th location in the state where residents can place wagers in person.

On Thursday, the MLGCC approved the qualifications of three additional sports wagering facility applicants and two mobile sports wagering applicants. The businesses are expected to be considered for license awards during the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission’s next scheduled meeting on Feb. 15.

Prime Spot for Online Casinos

Maryland is considered to be a prime candidate for online casinos. Its proximity to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware, which all have online casinos, will possibly help get a referendum passed. States further away, Michigan and Connecticut, also have online casinos.

Maryland currently has six retail land-based casinos:

  • Horseshoe Casino Baltimore
  • Ocean Downs Casino
  • Live! Hotel & Casino Baltimore
  • Hollywood Casino Perryville
  • Rocky Gap Casino Resort
  • MGM National Harbor

Voters in Maryland will need to approve the proposed gambling expansion for it to become a reality. The 2020 ballot question on sports betting in Maryland passed by an overwhelming margin.

SB 267 suggests submitting a referendum to Maryland voters during the general election to be held in November 2024. Voters will see a question on the ballot asking, “Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize Internet gaming for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”

The bill will now be referred to a committee for preliminary review.

Political Editor

Keith Stein is a freelance journalist based in Virginia. He has experience in freelance writing, full-time journalism and supporting monthly and weekly news publications. He has also worked as a contributing writer with United Press International.