The state of Maryland may be famous for crab cakes, but it may soon be known for sports betting as well.
A ruling in May 2018 by the Supreme Court struck down a federal law banning states from offering wagering on sports. Maryland was among those that wanted in on the game.
State lawmakers felt a referendum to change the state constitution was needed to expand into the sports betting industry, but they failed to post it in time for the 2018 ballot. The next chance to put it to voters would be in 2020.
However, a new bill has been proposed which would sidestep the referendum and authorize the State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency to regulate the sports betting industry. All political sides seem to support the idea. It appears Maryland lawmakers will do whatever it takes to get these laws passed well before 2020.
"If Maryland doesn’t quickly address this issue, surrounding states will, and Maryland will lose an important competitive edge," said the owners of Maryland's MGM casino properties.
The state is already losing out to online offshore sites. Maryland residents have been placing their bets at top-ranked sites for years.
Betting Laws in Maryland
More than six million people live in Maryland, a Mid-Atlantic state and one of the smallest in the United States. Annapolis is the state capital and Baltimore is the largest city with a population of more than 600,000 residents.
Maryland has a long history of gambling, especially its rich horse racing tradition. Gambling laws in the Free State — whether it's betting on thoroughbred racing at Pimlico Race Course or playing the slots at MGM National Harbor — are regulated at the state level by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.
All legalized gambling in Maryland is limited to the following areas:
- Casino gambling
- Tribal gambling
- Pari-mutuel wagering
- Daily fantasy betting
- Charitable gambling
The minimum gambling age is 21 for playing at all Maryland casinos and is 18 for pari-mutuel wagering.
The state first legalized casino gambling in 2008. It then passed a referendum in 2012 to allow table games at the existing authorized venues and build a new casino in Prince George's County.
Today, Maryland features six casinos located on the beach and in the city throughout the state — Rocky Gap Casino Resort is nestled away in the northwest corner of the state, while Hollywood Casino Perryville finds a home in the northeast. Live! Casino and & Hotel in Hanover is the biggest venue with more than 4,000 slot machines and 200 table games. It's located northeast of the U.S. capital between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
Maryland has almost three centuries of rich horse racing tradition, which includes the middle jewel of thoroughbred racing's prestigious Triple Crown. Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore hosted its first race in 1870. Thirteen horses — including Justify in 2018 — have gone on to capture the Triple Crown after winning the Preakness in the Run for the Black-Eyed Susans.
The state's other two main tracks are Laurel Park (thoroughbred) and Rosecroft (harness racing). All three venues offer pari-mutuel simulcast wagering on racing action across the U.S. and around the world.
With the approval from Maryland residents, the state lottery started with its first drawing in 1973. Scratch-offs, now the lottery's best-selling game, became available in February 1976. In 2007, the Maryland government passed a bill allowing 15,000 video lottery terminals in five locations throughout the state.
Today, the lottery has many draw and scratch games and annual revenues of almost $2 billion. It's also part of the multi-state drawings for Powerball, Mega Millions and Cash for Life.
Maryland Sports Betting Laws
Maryland's closest neighbor, the District of Columbia, is in the process of establishing sports betting after government leaders approved it in December 2018. The Old Line State is now considering a fast-track proposal instead of voter approval to keep pace with the competition.
Many jurisdictions in the eastern United States have launched into sports wagering since the Supreme Court struck down a congressional ban in May 2018. While some are against the industry in Maryland, those tax revenues are lost to other regions that have already made the move.
Maryland legislative leaders are now studying a plan in which the state would place the regulation of sports betting under the lottery and gaming agency.
Legalization would allow Maryland's land-based casinos to offer Las Vegas-style sports books, where clerks accept bets and odds are displayed on oversized boards. They hope to allow residents to be placing wagers at state-authorized properties before the next Super Bowl.
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Maryland's Favorite Sports Teams
The state has two professional sports teams, but three franchises actually play their home games in Maryland.
The Baltimore Ravens, who have won two Super Bowls (2000, 2012), and Baltimore Orioles, who have won the World Series three times (1966, 1970, 1983), play their home games in the city's southeast district. The Washington Redskins, who have won the Super Bowl three times (1982, 1987, 1991), play their rivals at FedExField in Landover, Md.
Three other teams play in the nation's capital. The Washington Nationals, who have won five divisional titles since they moved here in 2005, are the eighth major league franchise to be based in D.C. The Washington Wizards, who won a championship in 1978, have appeared in four NBA Finals. The Washington Capitals, who won their first Stanley Cup in 44 years in 2018, moved from Maryland to D.C. in 1997.