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Home > News > Maryland iGaming Halts for 2024 as Senate Drops House Proposal

Maryland iGaming Halts for 2024 as Senate Drops House Proposal

Publish Date:April 30, 2024
Fact checked by: Chris A
Maryland iGaming Halts for 2024 as Senate Drops House Proposal

Maryland iGaming Halts for 2024 as Senate Drops House Proposal

Last month, the Maryland iGaming bill, which the state House of Delegates passed, failed to progress in the General Assembly’s upper chamber. House Bill 1319, proposed in February by Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary of Howard County, aimed to broaden Maryland’s gaming landscape to encompass online slots and interactive table games.

Atterbeary’s bill garnered approval with a 92-43 vote, indicating a clear divide along party lines. Democratic delegates showed a strong inclination towards supporting the iGaming initiative. However, despite the Democratic Party’s dominance in the state Senate holding 34 out of 47 seats the body decided to put a pause on considering any expansion of gaming during this legislative session.

Upon the introduction of HB 1319, Senate leaders assigned the bill to the Budget and Taxation Committee, where it was reviewed on March 26. Nevertheless, committee members chose not to proceed with a vote on the bill.

With the General Assembly’s 2024 legislative session concluding on Monday, and no plans to revisit HB 1319, the push for iGaming has effectively reached a standstill.

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Debate Over iGaming Legislation in Maryland

Atterbeary and other proponents of iGaming argue that online casino games could generate additional revenue for the Maryland Blueprint. Enacted in 2021, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future aims to revolutionize public education, focusing on enhancing the quality of schooling for historically underserved communities.

Revenue from Maryland’s six traditional casinos contributes to the Maryland Education Trust Fund. This fund supports a variety of educational initiatives, including pre-K through 12 public education, infrastructure for public schools and higher education, as well as improvements to community college facilities. Moreover, taxes from sports betting are allocated to support the Blueprint’s objectives.

Senate leaders informed Atterbeary and other House legislators advocating for iGaming that the upper chamber would immediately reject the issue. Senators expressed that 2024 was not the year to expand gaming, and earlier in the year, they withdrew support for similar iGaming legislation proposed by State Senator Ron Watson (D-Prince George).

Atterbeary’s proposed bill would have permitted the state’s casinos to collaborate with up to three iGaming platforms. Additionally, Maryland’s four off-track betting venues and two bingo halls would have been eligible for a single online gaming license each.

Under the proposed legislation, Urban One, a media conglomerate, was set to receive one of the iGaming licenses, while the remaining five would have been available through a competitive bidding process. The cost for each license was pegged at $1 million, with the generated gross revenue subject to a 55% tax rate.

For HB 1319 to take effect, Maryland residents would have needed to approve it through a referendum, as it required amending the state constitution to allow online casino gambling. Given its status as a legislative-initiated ballot measure, the bill necessitated a three-fifths majority vote in each chamber of the assembly for passage.

Public Opinion and Casino Industry Stance on iGaming

A February-commissioned poll, conducted alongside the state Senate, revealed that a majority of Maryland’s public is against the introduction of online casino gaming. The survey found that 64% of Maryland residents are currently opposed to iGaming. It’s important to highlight that the poll was carried out by an independent public policy polling firm located in Raleigh but was commissioned by the Maryland Retailers Alliance, a group firmly against iGaming.

The state’s casinos are opposed to extending casino gaming to the Internet. Last year, the six casinos amassed a gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $1.98 billion, marking a 3.3% decrease from 2022. MGM National Harbor, the leading market performer in the state and among the most lucrative casinos nationwide outside of Las Vegas, experienced a nearly 6% reduction in its GGR, falling to $834.1 million.

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