Changing the Law
On Election Day, November 3, 2020, Maryland residents voted 2 to 1 to legalize sports betting in their state. All proceeds from legalized sports betting will help provide funding to K-12 public education systems, and the wide margin indicates that there is a remarkable mandate to legalize betting. But what has to happen before Marylanders get to place their first bets? It might surprise you, but the answer is a lot.
A Complex Process
Maryland is now one of 17 states that has legalized sports betting along with Washington, D.C., after its state Senate voted 47-0 on a sports betting referendum. Now, the legislature needs to create legislation to create a whole sports betting industry in the state when the state government meets again in January. Sports betting laws will require that licensees who can facilitate legalized bets will have to pay a one-time fee of $2.5 million to apply for their license, and will have to pay additional fees to renew this license annually.
How Will Betting Work?
Legal experts with experience in the gaming industry have stated that retail betting is likely to be handled by sports stadiums, casinos, and horse racing tracks, all of which have the necessary funding and infrastructure to facilitate betting.
There’s also a fairly good chance that gamblers will be able to work with mobile sports betting licensees to use their phones to gamble, though it is not yet clear whether Maryland will create its own platform or partner with companies like DraftKings or FanDuel, which facilitate online sports betting in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Mississippi, and Rhode Island. Currently, Virginia is the only state that allows both online and offline sports betting.
When Will Players Place Their First Bets?
It’s highly likely that sports betting won’t be ready in Maryland until near Super Bowl 2022, and that date is highly contingent on the legislature completing their work and allowing some licensed operators to complete the necessary groundwork to launch in time for the big event.
Before that will happen, the legislation is required to conduct a disparity study, which works to determine to what degree women and minorities are disadvantaged when they attempt to enter the gambling industry, as well as how to remedy this. No state before Maryland has attempted to address these challenges, nor is there currently a clear path forward for remediation.
This was the direct result of a lack of diversity in the medical cannabis industry, which Maryland legalized in 2013, and which the legislature took steps to remedy in 2018.
Getting There First
Regardless of how things develop, there is some concern that other states that have already legalized sports betting will get a leg up on Maryland. Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Football Team, has expressed interest in operating legal sportsbooks in either Maryland or Virginia if he decides to build a new stadium in either of those states.
Other than Dan Snyder, interested investors in Maryland include the MGM National Harbor Casino, which spent $500,000 to support the initiative, and is looking to launch both a physical sports book and a mobile app as soon as possible.
A Massive Opportunity
Dan Snyder and MGM aren’t the only potential beneficiaries. Legalized sports betting has the potential to bring in as much as $20 million a year as based on reports from the Department of Legislative Services. Legislators are also aiming to pass a $32 billion education bill in order to help school districts with low incomes, making now an extraordinary opportunity for legalized sports betting for enthusiasts and children alike.