“It’s getting a lot of attention:” Maryland lawmakers are debating legalizing internet gambling

MARYLAND – Imagine placing your wager on a table game or trying your luck at a slot machine right from the palm of your hand or your computer screen.

That could soon be a reality for Maryland residents as lawmakers recently introduced Senate Bill 267 that would legalize internet gambling. “It’s getting a lot of attention for its potential to increase revenue, and it’s getting some attention from the government for its potential to contribute to taxpayers’ money,” Ordine said.

Currently, gambling is only legal on the Maryland casino property.

What is referred to as “i-gaming” is currently legal in 6 states. We’re told it’s a revenue generator that accounted for $5 billion in US gaming gross revenue in 2022.

Under the bill, companies could apply for 5-year online gaming licenses at a cost of half a million dollars.

Despite the industry adding billions to the state’s economy annually, Bill Ordine, an analyst at BetMaryland.com, says guard rails need to be put in place to ensure safe i-gaming use. “And how much can we mitigate the harm that does to people who are vulnerable to addictive behaviors,” Ordine said.

“One has to figure out how we can make sure you don’t give these games to minors.”

Even so, Ordine says legalization could help curb illegal online betting. “People from Maryland get on their computers and play with offshore Internet operators that are not regulated,” Ordine said. “For one thing, they’ve been in business for a lot longer. They’ve been doing this for decades now, almost since the dawn of the internet.”

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We reached out to the Maryland Gaming & Lottery Commission for comment, which sent us a statement, which is partially quoted. “The Senate Budget and Taxes Committee held an initial hearing on Senate Bill 267 and decided to form a working group to discuss it further. We will follow the working group discussions and all decisions of the General Assembly.”

Ordine also tells us that far too little research has been done on the effects of internet gambling and more needs to be done.

Under the bill, 15% of the funds generated would be used to support the state’s Education Trust Fund. The fund supports statewide initiatives such as Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Plan.

If passed, the measure would be a referendum to be placed on the ballot for the 2024 general election.