Question 2 puts the ball in the courts of Maryland voters. A bill to legalize sports betting passed in the first quarter of 2020 and left it up to the voters in the Old Line State.
Maryland is surrounded by sports betting on nearly all sides. Virginia will be starting up legalized sports betting very soon, but Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware all have legal sports wagering. New Jersey does not share a border with Maryland, but we know it as the East Coast capital of sports betting and it could very well become the U.S. capital of sports betting before the end of 2020.
Even Washington D.C. already has sports betting.
It would be a little bit unfair to say that Maryland is behind the times, but bordering and adjacent states have moved faster to legalize wagering than they have.
It comes down to Ballot Question 2:
“Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and event betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”
Ballot Question 2 simply paves the way for sports betting. If the measure is passed, then the state and the bodies responsible for sports betting, including the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission, will decide how, where, and when to apply sports betting. It remains to be seen whether it will be limited to the state’s casinos, to any approved lottery retailer, or if Maryland will allow mobile and online betting, but the language of the bill did specifically leave that open as an option.
“Event betting”, for what it’s worth, refers to things like reality TV competitions and entertainment awards shows. The explanation provided to voters on the Maryland Secretary of State’s website includes language that includes betting on “a particular play or action during a sporting event”. That would cover live betting as well.
The state’s General Assembly would meet and have hearings and deliberations to decide all of the details. That leaves the voters with a simple, yet loaded yes or no question. If sports betting is limited to retail locations and prohibits wagering on college athletics, it will provide a boost for the state’s education funds, but certainly won’t allow the tax revenues to reach maximum potential.
But, you have to open a door before you can walk through it.
If Maryland voters were to approve Ballot Question 2, sports betting would begin in 2021 in all likelihood. While 2020 has been a bad year in so many ways around the world, there have been a lot of positive strides in the sports betting world, as Illinois, Montana, Michigan, Colorado, Washington D.C., and North Carolina as new states with legal sports betting. Tennessee will become another one on November 1.
There are six casinos in Maryland and a smattering of race tracks, including Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park. Pimlico is of course known for hosting the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown.
The hope (likelihood?) is that Maryland would allow for remote registration and mobile and online betting. In that instance, sports betting operators would partner with the existing gaming locations to acquire licenses, as handed out by the state.
At present, it would seem as though the ballot measure is a 50/50 proposition to be passed or the ‘NO’ may be a slight favorite. We’ll see what happens when the actual votes are tallied, but the hope is that another East Coast state will join the sports betting landscape.
If the measure passes the general election vote on Tuesday November 3, you will be able to start betting on sports in Maryland sometime in 2021.
In any event, the bill would allow for betting at the six casinos and also the state’s racetracks. You would be able to bet at retail sportsbooks at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Hollywood Casino in Perryville, Ocean Downs in Berlin, Live! Casino Hotel in Hanover, and the Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Flintstone.
Betting areas would also be placed in the state’s racetracks, most notably Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park.
The wording in the bill also allows for mobile and online wagering, so as long as you are in the state of Maryland, you will be able to bet on sports. Each operator will have its own app. Up to two licenses are available for each property, which means that we could end up with a lot of different operators.
Because each of the casinos is owned by somebody different, we should have six different operators based on that alone, but also have the opportunity for the online-only operators to also set up shot.
BetMGM would obviously be tied in with MGM National Harbor. The Horseshoe Casino is a Caesars property. Hollywood Casino belongs to Penn National. Ocean Downs is owned by Churchill Downs, Inc. Live! Casino Hotel is owned by a company that has locations around the country and Rocky Gap Casino Resort is owned by Golden Entertainment, which has partnered with William Hill for some of its other properties.
We are likely to see BetMGM, Caesars, BetAmerica, William Hill, DraftKings, Barstool Sportsbook, and FanDuel at a minimum, but it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see other operators like PointsBet, theScore, or Fox Bet based on some of the other partnerships and agreements around the country.
For now, sports betting remains illegal in Maryland, but you can easily make the drive up into Pennsylvania, where mobile betting is legal. New Jersey is not that far of a drive and mobile betting is still available there. You can also go west to West Virginia or east to Delaware for various forms of legalized sports betting.
Hopefully after November 3, it will easy for Marylanders to get their bets in!