'It gets a lot of attention:' Maryland lawmakers discuss legalizing internet gambling
MARYLAND – Imagine placing your bet on a table game or testing your luck on a slot machine right from the palm of your hand or your computer screen.
That could soon be a reality for Marylanders, as lawmakers recently introduced Senate bill 267 which would legalize internet gambling. “It gets a lot of attention because of its potential for raising revenue and it gets some attention from government because of its potential to contribute to tax money,” Ordine said.
Currently, gambling is only legal on Maryland casino grounds.
What’s called ‘I-gaming’ is currently legal in 6 states. We’re told it’s a powerhouse revenue generator that accounted for $5 billion in gross gaming revenue in the U.S. in 2022.
Under the bill, companies could apply for 5-year online gaming licenses with a price tag of half a million dollars.
Although the industry brings in billions to the state’s economy annually, BetMaryland.com Analyst Bill Ordine says guardrails will need to be put in place for safe I-gaming usage. “And to what extent can we mitigate the harm that will fall to or default people who are susceptible to addictive behaviors,” Ordine said.
“One has to calculate how is it that we’re going to make sure you’re not dealing those games to under aged people.”
Despite this, Ordine says legalization could help tamp down illegal online betting. “People form Maryland are going on their computers and they’re gambling with offshore internet operators who are not being regulated whatsoever,” Ordine said. “For one, they’ve been in business a lot longer. They’ve been doing this for decades now, almost since the dawn of the internet.”
We reached out to The Maryland Gaming & Lottery Commission for comment who sent us a statement that reads in part quote. “The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee held an initial hearing on Senate Bill 267 and decided to form a work group to discuss it further. We will be following the work group’s discussions and any decisions that the General Assembly makes.”
Ordine also tells us there’s been far too little research done on the impacts of internet gambling and more has to be done.
Under the bill, 15% of funds generated would go towards supporting the state’s Education Trust Fund. The fund supports statewide initiatives like Blueprint for Maryland’s Future plan.
If passed, the measure would be a referendum placed on the 2024 General Election ballot.