Maryland Online Casino Bill Draft Designed to Offset Deficit

Maryland Senator Ron L. Watson is working to draft an online casino and poker bill that he believes could address the state’s projected $761 million deficit. A recent study informed lawmakers that online casinos could yield $900 million in revenue. However, Watson thinks the state could use more money than that, so the Maryland online casino bill he drafted includes a 46% tax rate on potential iGaming sites.

Bonus already cited that 46% tax rate in a Jan. 2 story, which Watson responded to minutes later with an article about the expected deficit that was published by The Daily Record, Maryland.

The piece in TDR, M reads:

The state’s roughly $63 billion operating budget is now projected to have a $761 million deficit in fiscal year 2025, which begins in July.

The logical connection between the subjects arrived in an article published on Jan. 10 on PlayUSA. In it, Watson told PlayUSA‘s Matthew Kredell that iGaming operators could afford to pay a 46% tax rate and Maryland needs the money to fill the budget gap. Bonus and PlayUSA are Catena Media publications.

Indeed, other states tend to charge online casino and poker operators higher tax rates than they do sportsbooks. For instance, Pennsylvania taxes table games at 17% and slots at 54%. However, sportsbooks pay 36%.

Watson, D-Prince George’s County, also told Kredell that the document would change from a draft to a bill by the end of the week.

However, that hadn’t happened as of Jan. 12.

On Jan. 12, Watson’s chief of staff Clate D. Jackson — AKA, “CJ” — told Bonus:

Nothing to report yet. He’s still working out the details.

Some Maryland Online Casino Bill Draft Details

When Bonus talked to Watson on Dec. 29, the online casino bill draft he shared with the news team showed the 46% tax rate on iGaming. However, many in the online gambling industry assumed the rate would be identical to Maryland’s 15% online sports betting tax.

That would’ve been a surprisingly low rate on Maryland online casinos, considering legal online casino states tend to expect more funds from iGaming operators vs. sportsbooks.

However, the study Maryland legislators authorized before considering legalizing online casino and poker also assumed a tax rate between 10% and 30%.

So Watson’s higher tax rate would pull in more money than the research estimated.

Meanwhile, 1% of iGaming revenue would fund problem gambling efforts.

However, none of this can happen until both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly approve the bill Watson will introduce. Then, the measure will be presented to voters in November. Electors would need to decide to change the state constitution to make online casinos and poker legal.

So, the earliest Marylanders may be able to gamble online on casino games and poker would be July 1, 2025.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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