n Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan signed into law a bill that establishes a framework for the sports gambling industry, bringing Maryland one step closer to having legal sports betting.
However, it is yet unclear how long it will be before Marylanders can place bets on sports. Some of the lawmakers in the state have expressed hope that at least some level of gambling might be in place in Marylands for this fall’s NFL season, reports The Baltimore Sun.
The proposed bill, which was negotiated by lawmakers and signed by the Republican governor, grants in-person licenses to the state’s six casinos, the Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course thoroughbred racing tracks, and the stadiums for the Baltimore Orioles, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Washington Football Team.
Furthermore, up to 30 additional in-person betting licenses will be available for off-track betting facilities, the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, and large bingo halls. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees and less than $3 million in sales will pay less for their licenses than bigger operators. Additionally, up to 60 licenses will be issued for mobile and online sports betting apps, also known as “skins”.
With the sports gambling bill becoming law immediately, the state of Maryland can move forward in creating a commission that will review and issue the licenses.
House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat, said she was pleased with the bill’s framework for establishing the industry, one of many issues that she said was viewed through “a lens of inclusion” during the annual 90-day legislative session that ended last month.
Jones commented: “I’m particularly proud that we will sign legislation that opens up opportunities in the industry of sports betting to minorities and women."
The number of nearly 100 licenses, was designed to give chances to many businesses to participate, including ones with diverse ownership. Companies including tech startups, off-track betting parlors, and bingo halls lobbied lawmakers for a large number of licenses.
The state will set goals for companies that win licenses to hire minority and women-owned businesses as subcontractors. Also, the licensing commission will study whether other measures are needed to ensure fair participation by people with minority backgrounds. Also, a portion of license application fees will be used to create a fund that will offer grants and other assistance to minority and women-owned businesses working to get into the market.
Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, said it was “exciting” to sign the bill, which represents an economic expansion in the state.
Sports gambling companies will pay a 15% tax on their proceeds, which will go largely to public education. Nonpartisan analysts estimate that the state could bring in about $17 million per year once the programs are up and running in a few years.
The bill came after Marylanders voted in 2020 to approve permitting sports gambling in the state. The referendum left the details to lawmakers to work out.
The bill was one of more than 200 that Hogan, Jones, and Ferguson signed in the State House. For the first time in more than a year, the ceremony was held without the need to wear masks.
Fergurson said: “It’s funny to be here without masks on. We can feel the after-times of this pandemic.”
Hogan lifted the state’s mask mandate last week applicable everywhere except on public transit, in schools, daycare centers and health care settings. People who aren’t vaccinated are also encouraged to continue to wear masks.
The governor has until June 1 to take action on more than 800 other bills approved by state lawmakers. He can veto them, sign them into law or allow them to become law without his signature.