• Maryland has not legalized a state-regulated sports betting industry.
  • Reduced social gambling penalties will modernize Maryland’s book of codes.
  • The engrossed bill must be signed by the Governor before it is enacted.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Without a single vote against the measure, Maryland HB 113 was approved by both chambers of the legislature over the course of April.

Though it does not legalize or regulate sports betting, it puts Maryland into the pro-gambling mindset that helps begin the serious legalization discussions.

Under this measure, which only now requires a signature from Republican Governor Larry Hogan to be enacted, the penalties for unlicensed or “social gambling” would be reduced.

“These crimes of gambling are not enforced evenly,” said bill sponsor, Delegate David Moon (D- Montgomery. “I have never heard of a single person [going to trial] for their $1 NCAA bracket, but you do see residents in urban areas brought up for doing practically the same thing, except with dice.”

With a complete overhaul of the gambling penalties, anyone caught betting in an illegal manner shall be a civil offense. Depending on the amount of money being wagered, gamblers would be subject to a $500 – $1,000 fine rather than a misdemeanor charge.

The former misdemeanor charge also carries a jail sentence, up to one year, with the ability to also be fined, according to the bill’s text.

Illegal bookmaking would still be a form of unlicensed gambling, but the length of jail time would be reduced. Instead of doing time for less than a year, those prosecuted would have to serve less than six months of jail time.

However, the illegal bookies are also subject to having their assets seized and will likely see a fine, up to $5,000.

Though Maryland did not introduce sports betting legalization in 2019, the discussion will certainly be prevalent in next year’s session. With the lawmakers already establishing more lenient gambling laws, it can be assumed next year will see a gambling expansion.

When addressed with why he filed the bill, Moon said, “It’s a little bit immoral for us to keep expanding gambling without addressing what criminal penalties we have left on the books.”

Without any mention of internet gambling, residents of Maryland are still able to use offshore betting sites that offer options in the meantime.

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