After efforts to legalize online casinos in Maryland stalled during the 2023 legislative season, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA) has commissioned The Innovation Group (TIG) to conduct a study examining the potential expansion of gambling in the state.
As part of Maryland’s 2024 state budget, Maryland’s General Assembly (MGA) directed MLGCA to prepare an iGaming report. MGA’s budget authorized $100,000 for MLGCA to retain a third-party firm to conduct a study for the report.
Stakeholders hope the extra details lead to more in-depth discussions in the state legislature in 2024.
MLGCA selected TIG, one of five submitting firms, to conduct the study during a July 27 Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) meeting.
During the meeting, Jim Nielsen, the lottery’s deputy director and chief operating officer of the gaming and regulatory oversight division, commented on the selection.
We felt that The Innovation Group’s proposal seems very strong. They have a good team put together, they’ve done this kind of work before, and we’re just very comfortable with them as an organization.
The MLGCA must complete and submit the online gambling report by Nov. 15.
Report to Consider Impact on Existing Casinos
Maryland currently allows brick-and-mortar casinos and retail and online sports betting. The launch of regulated sports betting in Maryland came less than a year ago, in November 2022.
The next steps will see lottery staff meet with TIG to determine a timeline for the completion of the study and report.
Though, Nielson suggested a draft could be ready by early September.
When complete, the report will cover the estimated size of a potential Maryland online casino market and its impact on land-based casinos. Issues impacting problem gambling and learnings from other states will also be a focus.
From an MLGCA Staff Agenda Memorandum prepared for the meeting:
The General Assembly is generally interested in understanding the current regulatory landscape for iGaming; the estimated market in Maryland; the potential economic impact of legal regulated iGaming on Maryland’s brick-and-mortar casinos, other gaming venues, and the MLGCA; the experience of other states; methods to transition individuals from the illegal iGaming market to the legal market; and the impact on problem gambling. The iGaming report is intended to help the General Assembly in this regard.
In its proposal, TIG estimated the study would cost $86,000 to complete. Notably, that’s $14,000 less than the budget for the work and dead-center for costs among the five proposals.
As MLGCA explained in the memo, the consultancy’s combination of technical expertise and pricing made TIG the best choice for the job.
The Innovation Group’s proposal is the most advantageous to the State based on RFP’s technical factors and financial factors, which have equal weight in this RFP. MLGCA Staff recommends Commission approval to award the Contract to The Innovation Group.
Commission Approves Changes to MD Gambling Rules
During the meeting, the Commission also discussed and approved changes to Maryland gambling rules.
However, before becoming official, the tweaked regulations will be subject to a public comment period and other regulatory hurdles.
Among those proposed changes is a regulation allowing casino employees between 18 and 20 on the gaming floor, which aligns with state legal statutes.
Additional regulations focused on responsible gambling, including a requirement for visible messaging about the state’s voluntary exclusion program in retail locations. Risk-free language is also on the chopping block if the regulations pass review.
Lastly, for easier access to personal data, player tracking systems will be able to provide account information at self-service kiosks and online.