ANNAPOLIS, Md. – With Maryland now surrounded by three states with legal sports betting, MD lawmakers are searching for a way to keep up with the competition. The newest sports betting bill to reach the House last week could prove to be the golden ticket to do so.

House Delegates Jason Buckel and Kevin Hornberger introduced House Bill MD HB 1132, which if passed, would put the state lottery in control of sports gambling. This would ultimately allow the state to bypass the need for a voter referendum, offer the activity sooner, and permit residents to place sports wagers at the same convenient retail locations as other lottery games.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Senate President Thomas V. Miller, and House Speaker Michael E. Busch all support the idea of sports betting in Maryland.

“If we can find a way to do it without a referendum, I’m certainly amenable to move forward this year,” said Miller.

What Does This MD Sports Betting Bill Entail?

Compared to some of Maryland’s neighboring states, the potential regulations for sports wagering operators there would be less costly.

When the bill was first introduced last week, the original language called for 80% of sports betting revenue to be allocated to the state and 20% to the retailers providing the activity. That language is now being amended and reversed before making any moves forward.

In contrast, nearby states such as Rhode Island and Delaware have currently set their lottery commissions in charge of their sports betting operations and hold about 50% of the profits generated from it.

The bill would also allow video lottery terminal operators and horse racing licensees to also apply for a sports wagering license. They would have to pay an initial $300,000 fee to be approved and then pay an annual rate of $50,000 to retain authorization.

When Would I Be Able To Start Placing Sports Bets? 

Even though this bill could potentially work around a voter referendum, residents will likely have to wait until next year before they can start wagering on sports.

The bill wouldn’t officially become law until the midway through this year. After that, the lottery would have to find a third-party sportsbook operator to contract with in order to handle the new bets.

Although, since this bill would rule out casinos in the state from being able to provide gambling on sports, it could produce a bit of political conflict as well.

In either case, if Maryland wants to remain competitive they will have to act fast. West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware have already established sports betting venues in their state. Washington D.C. has also already legalized sports betting and Virginia is looking to do the same.

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