Maryland is set to allow sports betting at its casinos, horse racing tracks and potentially at the Washington Redskins stadium, following a unanimous Maryland Senate vote which passed legislation to legalize sports betting in the state.
Senate Bill 4 passed earlier this week with a count of 47-0 and, as a result, now passes through to the House of Delegates where, if cleared, will be signed by Republican Governor Larry Hogan, and be taken to a public vote in November.
Regarding the public vote, a poll of Maryland residents carried out in February by Goucher College within the state culminated in a close run affair as it showed 47% of voters supported the expansion of gambling to allow sports betting online in Maryland, whereas 43% opposed it.
The February poll also registered a 45% vote in favor of expanding gambling to allow sports betting at race tracks, casinos or stadiums in Maryland. However, in this instance the polling went against those favorable to gambling’s expansion across the state as 49% were opposed.
The news of the bill’s passing follows on from the January report by the Washington Post that saw Redskins owner Daniel Snyder privately present a sports betting proposal to Maryland legislative leaders. That proposal urged them to allow gambling at a future stadium within the state – something which is believed to be integral to his plans to build a new stadium on the site of FedEx Field.
As was reportedly proposed by Snyder, the passed Senate Bill 4 includes betting at a new or renovated stadium of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, as well as other key items such as a 20% tax rate and betting on college sports.
The rate, which is higher than that of other states, will see the majority of tax revenue given over to Maryland’s Education Trust Fund.
Passage of Senate Bill 4 will be seen as the first step in what is very much a catch-up process for Maryland which follows neighboring states such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware in legalizing sports betting.
That said, even if the enabling legislation is passed by voters in November, sports betting in a real world sense is unlikely to become active until 2021.