Maryland Senate Committee Sets March 26 Hearing Date for Online Casino Bill

Maryland Senators will hear testimony at noon on March 26 about the online casino bill that originated in the House. If Senators approve HB1319, Marylanders will be asked in November if they want to legalize iGaming.

After the referendum on the online casino and poker bill, the state regulator would need time to create rules for the new marketplace. So, iGaming probably won’t launch until 2025, even if all of the boxes are checked in 2024.

If Senators don’t change the bill Del. Vanessa E. Atterbeary proposed, as many as 30 online gambling operators will pay a 55% tax rate. Any online casino live dealer revenue will also see a 20% tax.

Live dealers are similar to land-based casino dealers. However, they deal cards and throw dice on a sound stage. HB1319 dictates that the studios for Maryland iGaming live dealer games be built in the state.

Atterbeary, D-Howard County, said Maryland needs the iGaming tax revenue to fund pre-K. Existing funding for that education program is running out. Maryland online casino and poker revenue may provide $300 million in tax revenue in 2028.

Online Casino Bill Hearing Is a Major Step

The March 26 Senate Budget and Taxation Committee hearing may bode well for HB1319.

After a Feb. 26 hearing in a House committee, it was a short trip to March 16 House floor approval.

However, HB1319 entered a Senate that already let two iGaming bills languish after a Feb. 28 committee hearing. State Sen. Ron L. Watson, D-Prince George’s County, told Bonus the bills he sponsored haven’t moved because his colleagues decided they already had a balanced budget.

There’s another option for Senators if they don’t want to create a framework yet for the gaming regulator, Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC), to build out before launch. Senators could strip HB1319 of everything but the referendum language and then let voters decide.

Suppose HB1319 becomes a referendum bill alone, and voters approve iGaming in November. In that case, the Maryland General Assembly must create a new online casino bill in 2025 and start the legislative process again. However, the marketplace could launch immediately after the MLGCC creates online casino and poker regulations.

How Senators are leaning will be more apparent during the March 26 committee hearing.

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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