Saturday, February 24, 2024

Maryland Legislator Files Second Online Casino Bill

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The push for mobile casinos in Maryland grew last week, as a second bill to legalize online casino gambling was introduced Friday by Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary. 

House Bill 1319, which is scheduled for discussion in the House Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 26, would award up to 12 online casino licenses. Unlike Senate Bill 603, which was introduced in late January, HB 1319 doesn’t tether the licenses to the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos. 

The House bill taxes licensees at a minimum of 20% on live dealer table games and a minimum 55% on other online casino gaming. The Senate bill taxes gross revenue at 47%, while the House bill lists an initial licensing fee of $1 million and each license is good for five years. 

Next steps

With SB 603 and HB 1319 each proposed, there are a pair of dueling efforts to legalize online casinos in the state. Each bill will receive attention in a committee the week of Feb. 26, with SB 603 expected to be discussed next on Feb. 28. 

Maryland entered the 2024 legislative session as one of the U.S. states most likely to legalize mobile casino apps. The state’s legislative session runs through April 8 and its crossover deadline is March 18. The session timing gives legislators a few weeks following the first committee hearings to move the iCasino legislation into the opposite chamber. 

Should one of the bills successfully pass through both chambers, it will still need voter approval in November to become law. Online casinos in Maryland likely wouldn’t go live until 2025 at the earliest. 

Maryland law currently allows in-person casino gambling as well as online and retail sports betting. The state also has a lottery, with the agency in charge doing double duty as the sports betting regulator. 

Photo: Getty Images

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