After a setback in 2023, Maryland Senator Ron Watson is redoubling efforts to introduce online poker and casino gaming legislation in the state, aiming to expand the gambling landscape.
Watson, a staunch advocate for online gambling, recently introduced a new bill, aiming to diversify Maryland’s gambling options and address the latest developments in the state’s gambling scene.
Who is involved?
The proposed SB 603 bill would enable the state’s six brick-and-mortar casinos to each form partnerships with up to two online gambling operators, potentially bringing the total number of online gambling platforms in Maryland to 12. This expansion would add to the state’s current selection of seven sports gambling sites, including well-known names like DraftKings and FanDuel.
The bill outlines a $1 million fee for four-year licenses and imposes state taxes, including a notable 47% tax rate on online gaming revenue. This rate includes allocations for problem gambling initiatives and regulatory efforts by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, marking a significant increase from Watson’s initial 15% tax proposal.
Watson defended the tax hike in a statement to PlayUSA.com, arguing that the high-profit margins of online casinos, due to minimal overhead costs, can sustain higher taxation, contributing significantly to the state’s budget needs.
This approach mirrors tax strategies in states with established online casino markets, such as Pennsylvania, which imposes a 54% tax on online gaming, indicating Maryland’s alignment with national standards.
The bill stipulates age and location requirements for players, mirroring regulations in Connecticut and New Jersey, and would potentially allow interstate online gaming competitions.
Set for review by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on February 28, the bill faces legislative and gubernatorial steps before it can reach the voters for a final decision in November.
As mobile sports betting sees widespread adoption across the U.S., concerns arise over the potential impact of online casino gaming on traditional casinos’ revenues and employment, with studies suggesting a possible 10% revenue dip and job losses.
Online Sports Gambling Booming
Since its inception in Maryland in November 2022, online sports betting has embraced a wide range of betting options, contributing to an estimated $4 billion in mobile sports bets by the end of 2023, showcasing the burgeoning market and hinting at the potential for online casino gaming in the state.