Through the passage of MD HB 48, the bill will make hosting real-money esports competitions legal in Maryland.

  • MD HB 48 will allow organizations within Maryland to conduct esports competitions and offer real money and/or merchandise to those winners.
  • Legal sports betting in Maryland will have to be approved via voter referendum.
  • The esports industry is projected to reach over a billion dollars by the end of this year.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Starting on Tuesday, hundreds of new laws in Maryland will take effect. Among these laws includes MD HB 48, a bill approved by MD Governor Larry Hogan that will make hosting real-money esports competitions legal in the state.

MD HB 48, more specifically, allows organizations within Maryland to award winners of esports tournaments with grand prize money as well as merchandise.

This law comes into effect only days after Philadelphia hosted the Overwatch League Grand Finals. The San Francisco Shock won the tournament and were awarded a grand prize of $1.1 million.

Esports is undoubtedly a growing industry that MD lawmakers are aware of. According to statista.com, the esports industry is projected to exceed a billion dollars this year. This number is only projected to grow as tournaments are becoming more popular and are being broadcasted by outlets such as ESPN.

The bill also distinguishes esports from any sports betting laws that MD legislators will want to implement in the future. The bill claims that participants in esports tournaments have control over the outcome while sports betting is decided at random.

If and when legal sports betting in Maryland does come into fruition, it would be the first state to allow betting on esports.

How Soon Can Legal Sports Betting Come To Maryland?

Earlier this year, four bills were introduced in the Maryland legislature to legalize sports betting. The main objective by lawmakers was to bypass the need for a voter referendum and instead allow the state Lottery to be in charge of this type of gambling.

MD SB 470 advanced the furthest out of all of the bills. It would’ve allowed Video Lottery Terminal operators and horse racing licensees to accept wagers on traditional sports.

However, after the state attorney general released a legal opinion in March, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. let interested parties know that “sports betting is going to have to wait until next year.”

A sports gambling bill will have to be passed in the same year as it can be put on the ballot. That means sports bettors will have to wait until November of 2020 at the earliest to be able to give their approval.

With regulations and licensing processes having to come after that, it likely won’t be until 2021 before those in Maryland will be able to bet on traditional sports or esports.

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